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What Was New in 2005

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December 30, 2005

Being a photographer these days means not only shooting, but also transferring files from memory cards to hard disk, reviewing, sorting, keywording, raw processing, cataloging and archiving. Oh yes, and refining in Photoshop.

There are a number of competent programs for executing the ingesting, sorting, labeling and cataloging of image files. But two that consistently are favoured by pros are Photo Mechanic and IView MediaPro 3. My user report on these leading Asset Management programs is now online, and is the last featured article of 2005.

The Home Page photograph as well as my Antarctic Archive have been updated.

To all my readers around the world – I wish you a safe, healthy and productive New Year!

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December 28, 2005

Have you ever wished that you could chat with the product planning folks at your favourite camera maker? Well, so have I. But, no luck so far.

Instead, over the past several months I have been talking with professional photographers, writers, educators and members of my workshops, asking them what features they would like to see in Canon's next-generation 1 Series camera. Why Canon? Simply because that's what I mainly use and am familiar with. In any event, you can read Suggestions for the Next 1 Series Canon to see if any of these match up with your own wish-list.

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My Monograph "26 Photographs – 1996-2001" has now sold out. Originally planned as a 100 copy edition, I have cut it short at 80 copies. The reason for this is to allow my bookbinder time to work on several new portfolio projects which I have planned for the coming months.

Please note that the limited edition Bangladesh Print Portfolio is also now sold out, ( the book is still available ), and that there are only two copies of my Illuminations portfolio remaining. I will be publishing at least two new limited edition print portfolios this spring. These will coincide with a month-long gallery exhibition in Toronto in March. Details soon.

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The Home Page photograph as well as my Antarctic Archive have been updated.

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December 26, 2005

Boxing Day Sale!

Yes, we're going to be crassly commercial, and just like every other merchant on the planet this week, we're having a Boxing Day Sale. (Note to those living in countries that don't celebrate Boxing Day. It is a festival of commercialism celebrated in some countries on the day after Christmas. It's purpose is to lure a bit more money out of the wallets of those who have not yet succumbed to financial distress. It also is a chance to save big for those that wait all year for this day).

From now until midnight December 27th, everything that we sell through the Luminous Landscape web store is on-sale at -15% off. That includes, Video Journal subscriptions, single issues, back issues, subscription renewals, boxed sets, books, portfolios – everything; (except workshops).

Remember – this 15% discount offer ends Tuesday night at midnight, Eastern time. Thanks!

If you are a new Customer or a returning customer who purchased on the old Shopping Cart (pre Nov. 25 2005) you will receive an additional 5% off coupon on your next DVD order – just for creating an account. Coupon valid until December 31, 2006.

UPDATE: Several people have written in to ask if they can renew their existing subscriptions at the Boxing Day sale discount price. The answer is yes, and we have now added these product to the shopping cart. Just remember – the sale ends Tuesday night at midnight, EST.

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There are now more ballheads on the market than one can shake a tripod leg at. Many are quite similar, different mainly in choice of materials, weight, and similar variables. But the company that started it all, Arca Swiss, has a new head on the market that comes from a different mold – quite literally. Called the Arca CUBE; a review by Jack Flesher is now online.

A reminder – there is still one place left, due to a cancellation, in my April, 2006 Namibia Expedition Workshop. And, you have just the balance of this week to get on the waitlist for my 2007 Antarctic Quest.

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On Wednesday you'll find out what I'm asking Canon for for Christmas – next Christmas.

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The Home Page photograph as well as my Antarctic Archive have been updated.

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December 22, 2005

Due to illness a couple that was to have been on my April, 2006 Namibia Expedition Workshop will not be able to attend. This means that there are now two places available on this remarkable photographic adventure. Update:There is now only one space left.

It's an expensive trip, and I realize that it's relatively short notice, but it is destined to be an extremely exciting photographic safari to a most exotic country. Please contact me right away if you're interested.

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Members of my just concluded Antarctic Workshop Expedition were asked to submit their photographs for publication here. Two of the trip's members have now done so, and so the first of these portfolios is now online. New entries will be added as they are received.

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Pre-announcement registrations are rolling in for my 2007 Antarctic Quest. If you want to be able to join us, you must send in your request (non-binding) before New Years Eve. Full details will be provided by e-mail at that time, and Quark Expeditions will begin taking registrations on a first-come-first-served basis after that weekend, but only to those people that have entered their requests here beforehand.

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With all the excitement over the past few days about Antarctica and upcoming workshops, it needs to be mentioned that this site's life's blood is subscription to The Video Journal. We have no advertising and no commercial relationships with either manufacturers or stores. Without your subscriptions this site can not continue to exist. Help support us. Re-ignite your passion for photography. Become a better photographer. Give a great gift to a fellow photographer. Support The Video Journal.

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Update: If you are adventurous enough to have purchased Aperture, you'll be pleased to note that Apple has just released Update V1.0.1. This release fixes a number of issues, including white balance accuracy, export quality, Book and print ordering reliability, and Auto-stacking performance.

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December 21, 2005

There are a lot of important and interesting new articles and announcements today.

I have now been back from Antarctica for just over a week. This has given me the opportunity to review the material that I shot and make my selects. An initial portfolio with comments on the shoot is found on the page titled Antarctica, and the Antarctic Archive page contains additional images as well as commentary on the ones that have appeared elsewhere.

I have also just published a page of Antarctic Snapshots, which try to share with you some of the fun of the voyage. The Home Page also contains a new image from that trip.

I am also pleased to make a preliminary announcement of a new expedition / workshop to Antarctica in February, 2007 – just 13 months from now. This trip will be even more extensive than the one just undertaken. Called The Antarctic Quest, this specially designed trip It will last for 20 days and will take us to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula during the height of the Antarctic summer.

Read the preliminary information page, and if this strikes you as the most amazing photographic voyage that you can imagine, don't let the opportunity escape. Though it will be expensive, it will also be unique – the experience of a lifetime. You should also know that more than a quarter of the people on this year's Antarctic voyage have already indicated that they will be returning on the new expedition.

Jeff Schewe, one of the expeditions instructors (AKA Admiral Antarctica), has just published his trip report on Photoshopnews.com and also a Feature Story on the trip.

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Arguably the finest photographic book seller on the net is Photo Eye. If like me you love books of photography, monographs and collections of images, Photo Eye will be found to be the richest resource imaginable. And if you'd like some guidance as to a suggested start to your library, our old friend Mike Johnston, the publisher of The Online Photographer, recently created an Amazon Listmania to guide your selection.

Are you using Apple's new Aperture yet? I'm in the process of testing it and hope to have my impressions online before the end of the year. In the meantime, Scott Bourne, a well-known photographer, author and educator has just launched a web site / blog / forum called aperturetricks.com, which you may find of interest.

At the moment my advice is that you should not buy Aperture if you are looking for a mature fully functioning raw converter / asset management / image processing application. But, if you want a taste of what the future of photographic software will look like, Aperture's the ticket.

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Canon has made available a firmware update for both the EOS 5D and 1D MKIIn. These fix certain bugs found in the new cameras.

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December 19, 2005

Are you able to access every single pixel shot by your camera? Maybe not.

You may own or be considering owning one of the new cameras such as the Panasonic LX1, and its sister camera the Leica D-Lux 2, which have 16:9 format sensors, but which can also be set to shoot 4:3 or 3:2 aspect ratio pictures. The camera actually records the sensor's full area regardless of how the camera's selector switch was set. But if you decide that you'd rather have the full width frame there's no way to recover those missing pixels. Or is there?

You may also have a shot taken with any digital camera in which some critical element is just outside the picture area. Can it be recovered?

Maybe. Thomas Knoll, one of the original authors of Photoshop, and the creator of Adobe's Camera Raw, has written a free utility program for raw files which recovers all of the pixels that any supported digital camera records, whether it's hidden edges or intentionally cropped formats.

Called DNG Recover Edges, this small utility is available for both Windows PCs and Macs. All cameras supported by Camera Raw are supported by DNG Recover Edges. This utility is available exclusively here, courtesy of Thomas Knoll and The Luminous Landscape. Please note that this application is unsupported, and is not an Adobe product.

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The site's Home Page has been updated again with a new photograph from Antarctica, which has also been added to the Antarctic Archive along with some descriptive text on the shooting situation and equipment used.

My Antarctic Portfolio will be online later this week, as will an exclusive review of the Arca Cube ballhead.

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December 16, 2005

Long-time readers of this site will be familiar with the writing of Alain Briot. He has produced several dozen informative and thought provoking articles and columns over the years, including his highly regarded series – Aesthetics and Photography.

Today Alain begin a new series for us titled Reflections on Art and Photography. You can read his introduction to the series, and then the first article, titled Art and Science.

Alain has also just announced a new audio CD called Briot Speaks. It features a 4 hour series of conversations between his wife Natalie and himself, and focuses on their experience being artists in business. It is the audio version of his upcoming Artist in Business essay.

The site's Home Page has been updated again with a new photograph from Antarctica, which has also been added to the Antarctic Archive along with some descriptive text on the location.

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December 14, 2005

During my almost two weeks offline there have been a number of developments in the photographic community. You may have come across these elsewhere.

There is a new camera review web site called Camera Labs.

Also, frequent contributor to this site, Sean Reid has just created a new subscription-based review site called ReidReviews. Sean is an excellent writer with a passionate photographer's grasp of what matters and what doesn't in equipment design and implementation. His site is free of advertising, and well worth your support. I was particularly taken by his article On Small Sensor Cameras. It is a unique perspective on how different digital formats are redrawing the face of photography.

Another new site that you'll want to visit often is The Online Photographer, a blog by none other than Michael Johnston, an excellent writer and observer of the photographic scene who graced these pages for several years with his weekly and monthly articles and columns.

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I received a press releases the other day from Dalsa, the maker of medium format sensors, and the supplier to Mamiya for their much-anticipated and long-delayed ZD camera. It reads in part...

Waterloo, Ontario, December 1, 2005 - DALSA Corporation (TSX:DSA), an international high performance semiconductor and electronics company, today announced that its customer, Mamiya, has set a shipping date for its new Mamiya ZD medium format camera. The professional grade camera, which integrates DALSA’s 22 million pixel image sensor chip, will be available in Japan on December 21st, 2005, and will be released world-wide in January 2006.

This hasn't been widely reported, but I'm sure will be of considerable interest to many photographers. No firm price information as yet. It will be interesting to see if the $10,000 point speculated about comes to pass.

Update: Correspondent Bernard Languillier, who lives in Tokyo, reports that the Mamiya ZD will sell at Yodobashi Camera (Tokyo's largest camera store) for Y 1,250,000, including discounts and taxes – which is US $10,400. This likely means a comparable street price in the States. The medium format digital price wars are about to begin.

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The Home Page has been updated with a new photograph from Antarctica, and I have also created a Antarctic Archive page which will contain all Antarctic photographs of mine appearing on this site, so that they can be referenced in one place. I will also be adding brief commentaries where appropriate.

This week's Time Magazine has as its cover story The Best Photographs of 2005. These also appear online on the magazine's web site and are well worth your viewing. The two which I found most compelling were Body Bags by Andrew Wong, and Venturing Back by Tim A. Hetherington. (The magazine and the web site have different titles for the photographs).

My only additional comment would be that while these may be the finest documentary / news photographs of the year by some measure, calling them the Best Photos, as Time does, is ignoring other types of photography. But, such is headline writing in magazineland.

And, speaking of writing, I have now started writing a regular series of articles titled DSLR Workshop for American Photo magazine. The first of these appears in the new issue just hitting newsstands (not the one pictured above). It is the Jan / Feb 2006 issue. The opening article is titled JPG Vs. Raw.

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December 12, 2005

I have just returned from my Antarctic Photographic Expedition and Workshop. It was a remarkable experience, and worked out very successfully. Between the almost 50 trip members and instructors, we shot several Terabytes of photographs, suffered one broken wrist, and a badly bruised thigh, both from falls. There were a few corrupted CF cards, but not a single other equipment failure, even under such sometimes harsh conditions. I will have several articles, lots of my own images, as well of those of the other instructors and expedition members online here in the weeks ahead. The first of my images is now online on the Home Page.

To get us back into a more regular publishing schedule, this already half-over month's first article is by contributor Greg Stott, a Toronto photographer and video & documentary producer and director. As visual communicators we all learn from and take pleasure in other media, not the least of which are motion pictures. Greg's fascinating article is titled Ten Movies Every Photographer Should See.

There are a still a few people who are having difficulty accessing this site's new server, particularly those using Windows XP, and who are using a computer on a network or behind a router. Here is the process suggested by one reader to solve the problem.

1. Delete cookies and temporary internet files from your Browser, Tools menu.
2. Flush the DNS cache, by the following process: enter command mode (run, command); enter ipconfig /flushdns and then hit Return
3. Shutdown computer, and then reboot your modem, router and all switches, in that order.
4. Restart the computer

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November 27, 2005

Antarctica calls. I leave today for Terra del Fuego, located on the southern tip of Argentina and the South American continent. I'll be leading a 10-day-long photographic expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula aboard the Akademik Shokalskiy, a converted and ice-hardened Russian research vessel operated by Quark Expeditions.

Joining me aboard for this unique adventure will be four of the world's leading photographic instructors – John Paul Caponigro, Stephen Johnson, Seth Resnick and Jeff Schewe. Filming the trip for a future Video Journal, and also acting as an instructor, will be award-winning director Chris Sanderson.

There will be 40 photographers participating, including Thomas Knoll, the original author of Photoshop and creator of Adobe Camera Raw, and Kevin Raber, VP Sales and Marketing for Phase One. Thomas will be assisting with Photoshop and ACR instruction, while Kevin will be providing Capture One instruction and also providing a Hasselblad system with a P25 digital back for members to shoot with during the trip.

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I am now off-line until December 12 and unable to respond to e-mails. Until then, here are some contacts:

– Issues related to store purchases or Video Journal subscriptions – Steve Sauve

– Issues related to the Discussion Forum – Neil Cowley

– Technical issues regarding the web site itself – Mark Guertin

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Please help support this site through your DVD subscriptions, single issue and book purchases. Note that we now offer both a FedEx and UPS delivery option on most products – just in time for Christmas gift giving.

We now have free shipping on our annual subscriptions, subscriptions with back issues – and for those who liked Issue #13, check out the free subscription offer under promotions.

Thank you.

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November 26, 2005

When Epson released its new Ultrachrome K3 ink printers earlier this year (the 4800, 7800 and 9800), fine-art photographers and commercial printers were very excited. The new inks provided a wider colour gamut, better scuff resistance, superior B&W printing capability, and the virtual elimination of bronzing on glossy papers. The downside over the previous generation of Epson Pro printers was that because a new Light Light Black cartridge was added, the printers couldn't take both the Photo Black and Matte Black cartridges simultaneously, the way that their predecessors did.

To make matters worse, at the time of introduction Epson stated that the changeover would not entail any significant ink costs. This turned out not to be the case. In fact, it costs at least $75 in lost ink every time the blacks are changed out on a 4800.

ColorByte now has a solution. It's been a while in coming, but for anyone using the ImagePrint 6.1 RIP (and if you're not, you should be), their brilliant new Phatte Black ink system completely solves the problem, allow both black cartridges to be resident in the printer simultaneously. My exclusive review is now online.

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November 25, 2005

We have today introduced new store software to this site. One of its advantages to purchasers will be that we now offer both a FedEx and UPS delivery option on most products, along with traditional postal service. (UPS is available in the US and Canada only). So, if you haven't yet ordered your Video Journal DVD subscription or my new Bangladesh book, now's the time to do it – just in time for Christmas. Remember – these purchases are what keeps this site free from advertising.

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November 24, 2005

Documentary style street shooting is something that many photographers try their hand at, yet some are nervous about pursuing. In my new essay titled Street Photograph in China I look at the issue of technique associated with this style of shooting, as well as some do's and don'ts when working in a foreign country.

I have received small portfolios from several of the members of my October China Workshop and Expedition. These are now online. Additions from other members will be mentioned here as they arrive.

I have assembled all of the photographs which I have published so far from my China trip on one page. As new ones are added as illustrations for upcoming articles, they will be added here as well, as a sort of archive for those that may be interested in seeing them all in one place.

If you own an Epson 4800, 7800 or 9800 printer you will want to return here on Saturday to read my exclusive review of ColorByte's Phatte Black system, which allows loading both the Photo Black and Matte Black inks on these printers simultaneously when using the Imageprint RIP. How's the image quality? Wait till Saturday to find out.

I would like to wish my American readers a very enjoyable, healthy and safe Thanksgiving holiday. Here in Canada we had ours last month, so have some for me.

The Home Page photograph has been updated.

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November 22, 2005

The number of new digital cameras coming to market each month is overwhelming. But every now and then one comes along that demands the attention of serious photographers. Such is the new Sony DCS-R1. This is the first fixed-lens digital camera with an APS-C sized sensor. It also features an excellent Zeiss T* 24-120mm f/4.0-4.8 lens.

Find out what all the fuss is about in my new First Impressions Report.

Update: Phase One has released a public beta of Capture One 3.7.3 for free download by its current customers. This new release, for both Macs and PCs, adds support for the new P30 and P45 backs as well as the Canon 5D, Canon 1dMKIIn, Konica Minolta 5D, Olympus E-500 and Leica R9.

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November 20, 2005

With winter coming on, at least for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it's time to consider either curling up with a several good books for the next few months, or, getting out and doing some winter landscape shooting. Pete Myers treats us today with his article on doing winter shooting at Crater Lake National Park in the Cascade Range of the Pacific Northwest.

The Home Page photograph has been updated with another image from my recent China trip.

Update: A PDF file of the DVD case cover art for Issue #13 of the Video Journal is now (finally) online.

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November 18, 2005

Landscape painting and photography from China and other Asian countries has long fascinated me. It was in large measure what motivated my October workshop in China. Two of the most famous locations for landscape work in that country are Guilin and Huangshan. These are discussed in my latest article on The Classic Chinese Landscape.

Update #1: Professional photographers, as well as serious amateurs, are always looking for guidance on digital workflow and most appropriate practices. The UPDIG Working Group, an ad-hoc industry consortium consisting of members such as ASMP, APA, NPPA and CAPIC has now published a series of guidelines which will be found to be very informative and useful.

Update #2: This site moved to a new server last week, and therefore has a new IP address. Most of the major DNS servers around the world, which translate site names into IP addresses, made the update within 24 hours, but there are still some that haven't. Consequently a few people are reporting that they are unable to view any new content. That's because their ISP is routing them to the old server (which is still online) rather than the new one. I'm afraid that this isn't in our control, and you'll have to wait until they do to be able to access the site from certain ISP's in some countries. The good news is that if you're reading this, you're on the new server.

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November 15, 2005

The web is full of product reviews and Photoshop tutorials. I contribute my fair share. But many photographers tell me that what they appreciate more at times are essays that inspire, or at least provide food for thought. One such, published for the first time today, is titled Develop Your Own Vision, by Glenn E. Mitchell.

The Home Page photograph has been updated with a photograph from my recent trip to China. Another article on China will appear later in the week.

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November 12, 2005

My new book, Bangladesh – First Impressions is now available for order. If you've been following my on-going essay on this self-publishing project, you'll find the final chapter of the process now in place.

This is a hard-cover, 100 page book with both colour and B&W plates. I am very pleased with the way it has turned out, and I think you will be to. Orders to the Continental U.S. and Canada will be shipped via UPS, while those to all other countries will be shipped via postal service.

To order your copy of the book, visit our store and then select BOOKS from the left-hand column.

UPDATE 1:

I originally had promised that those people that put themselves on the announcement list for my Bangladesh book that they would get signed copies. Unfortunately I'm going to have to go back on that promise. Due to a communication error the entire shipment of books were placed in shipping boxes by the fulfillment company before I could sign them. Sorry to disappoint.

UPDATE 2:

DPReview has published their review of the Canon 5D. Phil Askey is to be commended. This particular DSLR review raises technical camera reviews to a new level of comprehensiveness and professionalism. He has adopted some new methodologies which give readers more rigorous insights into camera performance than previously available on his site, or for that matter, anywhere else. I'm pleased that I no longer do other than hands-on field reports, because Phil has definitely elevated the craft of camera reviewing – again.

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November 11, 2005

If you are reading this it means that you are now on the new Luminous Landscape server. It's taken us a while to get here, but the switch from our old hosting company to our new one should mean a faster site with greater bandwidth, and a lot of behind the scenes technical advantages as well.

You'll also be pleased to discover that the Discussion Forum is now back online. We are using new board software, called Invision, rather than Ikonboard. They are quite similar, and you should have little trouble becoming familiar with it. You'll find that the board's message content is the same as when the old board was shut down last month.

In a day or two I will be announcing the availability of my new Bangladesh book, and you'll be able to order it online. We are also working to revamp our store, to make it more user friendly and efficient, and this too will be in place in the days ahead.

The Home Page photograph has been updated.

UPDATE: Adobe has just released Camera Raw 3.3 Beta. In addition to some enhancements, there is support for several new cameras, including the Canon 5D and 1D MKIIn, the Sony R1, and the Pentax *ist DL and DS2. Note that this release is described as a "beta" because support for some of these new cameras is still "unofficial".

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November 10, 2005

In addition to the mainstream of cameras which are available through local retailers and mail-order houses, there are specialty cameras targeted at niche professional markets. These are seldom seen by most photographers, and rarely reviewed in mass-market publications or on the Web.

One such camera is the Cambo Wide DS, a specialized view camera for landscape and architectural photographers. What makes it special is that it is designed to take the current and upcoming generations of self-contained medium format digital backs, and it features the incredible new Schneider Digitar lenses, which were specifically designed for these high-resolution MF digital backs, and which feature large image circles supporting camera movements. Find out what makes this the world's most expensive point-and-shoot.

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November 9, 2005

A couple of announcements of new products, sites and services. Tomorrow will see the publication here of a hands-on review of the world's most expensive digital point-and-shoot. Would you believe $35,000?

– The Plugin Site has announced Version 1.01 of LightMachine, a Photoshop-compatible plugin for performing a variety of image adjustments. It combines shadow / highlight, virtual lighting and color-based correction tools for performing sophisticated corrections without the need for time-consuming selections and layer stacks. Unfortunately a Mac version is not yet available. The program can be purchased at http://www.thepluginsite.com/products/photowiz, and a demo version can be downloaded at the same URL.

– A new photography web site called The Radiant Vista has just been launched. It appears to be worth exploring.

If you're reading this it likely means that you're a passionate photographer (or at least someone passionate about photography). If that's the case, then why haven't you checked out The Luminous Landscape Video Journal? It's the world's only DVD-based video magazine about photography, with tutorials, travel segments, interviews with famous photographers, and much more. Your subscription will also support this otherwise completely non-commercial web site.

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November 8, 2005

The new Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS lens has turned out to be a superb optic, and has been reviewed twice so far on this site. But it also has been subject to a factory recall. Is the problem real, and if so, how serious is it?

This topic is addressed in my latest article.

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The Home Page photograph has been updated with another recent one from the Yellow Mountains in China. There are many more China photographs and articles to come in the weeks ahead.

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Many readers are eager for the return of the Discussion Forum. So am I. Our move to the new server is taking a bit longer than planned, and we are also going to be switching to new forum software, as Ikonboard has become very flaky, and also has recently been discontinued. Look for the new forum (hopefully) by the weekend.

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November 3, 2005

New digicams come and go at a blistering pace. It seems a week doesn't go by when one manufacturer or another doesn't come out with a new and greater (?!) model.

But last month Panasonic did introduce a new model, the shirt pocket sized LX-1, and it is different and interesting enough to warrant some photographer's attention. My field review of the Panasonic LX-1 is now online, along with several photographs taken with it in China.

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The Home Page title photograph has been updated with a new image from China.

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Nikon announced this week the long rumoured D200, a 10 Megapixel camera with very impressive specifications. There is a detailed preview currently available on DPReview.

Whenever there is a new camera announcement, especially one by Nikon, I receive many e-mails asking why I have not / am not / will not be reviewing it. The answer is that this is not a general product review site. I use Canon equipment for my professional work, and therefore am keen on reviewing the latest bodies and lenses from that company. Sometimes manufacturers send me products for review, and occasionally when something catches my interest (such as the Panasonic LX-1 review published today) I'll go out and buy it.

But Nikon has never seen fit to contact me about reviewing their gear, though Konica Minolta, Pentax, Olympus, Fuji, Hasselblad, Phase One, Leaf and many others have. So be it.

In other words, I review what interests me, what I use for my professional work, and what comes my way and which I believe my readers will also find of interest. Also, since I no longer do full camera reviews, as I once did both on the web and for print magazines, this provides me more time to write about more interesting topics having to do with the art and craft of photography. Between Steve's Digicams, Imaging Resource and DPReview, to name just three of the larger better ones, there are no end of sites that provide detailed technical reports on new digital cameras.

So, Nikon owners. Don't imagine that my lack of Nikon reviews means anything other than that brand isn't what I use on a day to day basis, and that the company hasn't shown any interest in sending me products for evaluation and testing. They don't even send me press releases, so I need to find out about their new offerings by reading other web sites!

Thought you'd like to know.

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November 1, 2005

If you are interested in collecting both contemporary as well as historical fine art photographs there is an online auction taking place which you find worthwhile visiting. It is being operated by Photo Review. There are at least a half dozen prints there that I lust after.

A number of people have written over the past few days asking about the status of various projects. First of all, the move to the new server has been aborted. My current hosting company isn't up to the task, and so I am switching hosts. This will take about another week. Until we are on the new server I'm afraid that the Discussion Forum will not be able to be brought back on-line.

My Bangladesh book has finally arrived after its long treck across the Pacific by boat, and is in the warehouse almost ready to ship. I'll be making an announcement here and opening it up to orders within a few days.

I have just started printing my China portfolio with Imageprint 6.1 on the Epson 4800, and the image quality is superb. I'll have much more to say about this in the days ahead.

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October 31, 2005

I'm always interested in looking back after a trip to see what equipment that I thought I would need indeed turned out to be useful, and what was redundant. In China in the Bag I look at the gear that accompanied me for two weeks in China earlier this month and make my verdicts.

One of the most fascinating announcements of the past two weeks has been that of Aperture, Apple's new image processing application for Macs. Where does this product fit into the scheme of things? Who is it for? Why is it so expensive? How will it work with Photoshop, and is it a competitor to Capture One and Camera Raw?

An excellent first look at these questions, and some probable answers, are now found in an new article titled Bringing Aperture into focus, to be found on RobGalbraith.com.

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October 28, 2005

Air as well as foreign travel present numerous pitfalls for photographers. Having just returned from a two week trip to Asia I am all too aware of these. My new article on this topic concerns my file safety workflow, designed to ensure that my precious files arrive home when I do, and is titled When Failure is Not an Option.

Apple announced Aperture last week while I was away. This is a new breed of image processing software that includes raw file processing as well is file management capabilities. It is not a direct competitor to Adobe's Photoshop, but may well offer professional photographers some worthwhile new capabilities. I haven't seen it yet myself, but some pros who have report that it offers some compelling features. Aperture will ship next month (Mac only) and will have a MSRP of $499. There is an interesting interview with Joe Shorr, Apple's product manager for Aperture, at Creativepro.com.

ColorBytes has just started shipping ImagePrint 6.1, with support for the new Epson K3 ink printers, the 4800, 7800 and 9800. I expect to have an update to my Imageprint review within the next couple of weeks.

Pixmantic has announced the immediate availability of RawShooter Premium 2006. Featuring a substantial range of enhancements over the original free version (which remains available) Premium 2006 will carry a MSRP of $99, with a special discount to $59 for the balance of this month. A 15 day trial is available. PC only, I'm afraid.

As happens with anything related to web servers, the switch to our new platform is taking longer than planned. This means that it will still be another week or so until the Discussion Forum returns. Sorry for the delay.

Update: Canon USA has announced a recall on all 24-105mm f/4L lenses from the UT0801 series. Here is a link showing you where to find this number and what to do about it if you live in the US. Outside the US you should contact your local Canon distribution office. Canon has also issued firmware updates for their 20D and Rebel XT cameras.

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October 26, 2005

I returned late last night after a 26 hours flight from Shanghai to Toronto. Needless to say I'm going to take the next few days to recover from jet lag, but I'll also use them to catch up on e-mails and other pressing matters. This includes resolving problems with the site's new server, which was supposed to be implemented during my absence. Due to teething pains the site was a bit flaky for a few days last week, as was the Video Journal store. But, we now appear to have things under control, thanks to the good work of site tech Neil Cowley.

With any luck the transition to the new server will be completed by tomorrow, and the discussion forum should be reinstated then as well. This all will mean a doubling of the site's available bandwidth, and lead to more robust service.

My China expedition / workshop was a great success. I will have several articles related to it, as well as images from the trip online in the days ahead. The first of these, taken in Guilin, is now found on the site's Home Page.

Please note that there are still a few places left on session #2 and #4 of my Forbidden Photography series workshops, taking place in Toronto on the weekend of November 5, 6. Also, if you are planning on attending the group dinner that evening, and have not yet sent in your check, please do so right away.

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October 13, 2005

I have left today for a two week trip to China. I will be leading a workshop there, and will be back on October 26th. This trip will be an opportunity for me to use a full production Canon 5D (my previous experience in Greece last month was with a pre-production camera), and also to field test the new Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS lens.

- - - -

Over the past few years I have written and published a few different articles on making the transition from shooting film to digital. To give the other side equal time, today I am publishing an article by Bernard Languillier titled On The Appeal of Large Format Cameras for an Innocent DSLR Photographer. Be forewarned that the article is almost as long as its title, and will likely take you till I return at the end of the month to complete reading. It will be well worth your time though.

- - - -

Unfortunately I’ll be in China during the annual PhotoPlus Expo in New York City, from Oct 20-22, which I usually attend each year. There should be a few interesting new products announced, and I’m sure you’ll find sites around the Net that will provide coverage.

Please note that the move of this site to a new server has been delayed till my return the end of the month, and therefore the discussion forum will remain offline to posting until that time.

While I’m travelling, please remember that this site relies on your subscriptions and single issue purchases of The Video Journal for its survival. Our latest issue, #13, has just been published. Why not find out what it’s all about and support this otherwise completely non-commercial site in the process?

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October 12, 2005

Michael Tapes, a well known figure in the on-line digital camera world, has just written to me pointing out what he regards as a serious design flaw in the new Canon 5D. I am reproducing his letter to me, which details the problem, on a page titled – The Canon 5D "C" Mode Gotcha.

- - - -

If you own a Canon 1Ds MK!I or 1D MKII you will want to download the latest firmware updates, which have just been made available.

- - - -

Various web sites have been reporting on service advisories from several major manufacturers regarding CCD sensor failures. These are reportedly all related to a manufacturing defect in chips built by Sony between October 2002 and March 2004. You can read what's currently known about this issue in a story on the Imaging Resource web site.

- - - -

Reuters news agency reported today that Pentax and Samsung have agreed to work together to jointly produce digital SLRs. These cameras will be aimed at the mid-range of the market, and will be sold under both brand names. This follows announcements earlier this year by Sony and Konica Minolta, and Olympus and Matsushita (Panasonic) of similar tie-ups. Only the strong survive, and these partnering's between traditional but weaker photographic companies, and the main electronic giants, shows how perilous for some of the old-guard the industry has become.

- - - -

There are still a few places left on Sessions #2 and #4 my Forbidden Photography series workshops, taking place in Toronto on the weekend of November 5, 6. Don't miss it!

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October 11, 2005

Epson has recently released a free downloadable calibration program for their K3 ink printers. It is called Epson ColorBase, and is available for both Macs and PCs. It requires the use of a high-end spectrophotometer, and is intended to bring Pro series printers into calibration standard. My review is now online.

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October 8, 2005

The necessity of cleaning the sensor on your D-SLR from time to time is one of the dirty little secrets of the digital world. But manufacturers bow to the liability concerns of their lawyers, and scare us with dire warnings in their manuals, suggesting that we send our cameras in for cleaning (ya, right – like every few days!).

There are some excellent cleaning products available, like those from VisibleDust, and with a little caution can be used effectively and quickly to keep sensors clean. But for photographers who travel by air, these are not an option because they use compressed air cylinders as well as methanol-based cleaning fluids. Neither of these is legal to transport by plane.

Now there is a solution, and it's whimsically called the Arctic Butterfly. It effectively cleans camera sensors, is legal for air travel, and is reasonably priced. My exclusive review is now online.

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October 7, 2005

Following yesterday's publication of a comparison between the new Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS and the 24-70mm f/2.8L by Bill Caulfeild Browne, today I am publishing a comparison between the new lens and the older Canon 28-135mm f/5.6 IS by Mark Segal. The new review is now online.

The Discussion Forum has been taken offline. The reason for this is that it has been the cause of several system crashes, and so until the new server (mentioned yesterday) is stabilized I'm afraid that the forum will remain unavailable. Sorry for the inconvenience.

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October 6, 2005

Canon users know that one of the finest medium-focal length zooms is the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L. But, it's large, and it's heavy. The new Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS appears to be a viable alternative, but can it measure up to the old guy?

Today Bill Caulfeild-Browne provides us with his comparison between these two lenses, and I also add my own impressions.

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Continuing growth of traffic on this site means that it's time for us to upgrade our server. With more than 500,000 unique visitors each month, using some 500 Gigabytes of bandwidth, we need more elbow room. The transition is going to take a few days. You may find the site unavailable from time to time, but in the end it will mean a more robust server to handle future growth. Thanks for your understanding.

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October 4, 2005

DxO Labs will announce today DxO Optics Pro V3.5. This is a free upgrade for owners of V3.0.

Of even greater interest is that DxO Labs has announced that DxO Optics Pro now includes unrestricted access to all DxO Lens Modules for a given set of supported camera bodies. DxO Optics Pro Standard Edition supports prosumer digital-SLRs, while DxO Optics Pro Elite Edition also includes support for professional cameras. There are now more than 240 DxO Lens Modules available. I hope to be able to provide an evaluation of this new version in the days ahead.

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Leaf America announced today the Leaf Aptus 75 and and Leaf Aptus 65. The 75 is a 34MP back while the 65 is a 28MP back. Both will be unveiled at PhotoPlus Expo in New York later this month. The 75 will become available in November while the 65 will not be released until Q1 '06.

- - - -

Konica Minolta has announced that they are withdrawing from the digital camera market in Canada. They will continue to sell film in Canada though. The reasons for this move are unclear. My speculation is that KM has decided that film is going to make a comeback, and that digital's days will soon be over. Canada must obviously be a test market for this supposition.

Or, the company has decided that with the coming of winter Canadians will be so busy drinking beer and watching hockey, that they won't be doing any photography.

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October 2, 2005

Every time I write a product review or essay about equipment some folks on the online forums jump up and down with consternation, claiming that I'm biased. Regardless of the brand that I criticize or comment negatively upon, I am accused of being biased against it, and usually of being a sycophant for Canon (the brand that I personally use and therefore review most often), even though I am am often quite vocal in my criticisms of some of that company's design errors.

This has lead me to do some thinking about the issue of opinion vs bias, and so I have just published a short essay titled Bias on the subject.

– – – –

There are still a few places left on my Forbidden Photography series workshops, taking place in Toronto on the weekend of November 5, 6.

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September 29, 2005

New digital cameras continue to appear every few weeks. But every now and then one comes along that may well be a harbinger of things to come. The Canon 5D (just shipping this week) and the recently announced Sony R1 (shipping in November), are two such cameras.

My new essay titled Industry Push Pull looks at the effect that these two new models may have on the industry's future.

– – – –

I've just taken delivery of the new Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS lens. My initial impressions are very favourable. I hope to have something of a test report online within a week or so.

– – – –

For the few week we have been having trouble with the Iconboard discussion forum software that this site uses. We are therefore going to be taking the forum down for a while to sort it out. Hopefully service interruption will not be too extensive. The main web site itself will not be impacted.

– – – –

There are still a few places left on my Forbidden Photography series workshops, taking place in Toronto on the weekend of November 5, 6.

– – – –

And, a reminder that Issue #13 of The Video Journal is now shipping. Subscribers should start receiving their copies within the next few days.

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September 28, 2005

Adobe has just released Camera Raw 3.2. This is a free upgrade for Photoshop CS2. A range of new cameras are supported as well. Adobe DNG has also been updated to Version 3.2 with a number of new features.

The recently announced Canon 5D (my field report was published last week) has now started shipping in most major markets, including Japan, the U. K., Canada and the U.S., as has the new Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS lens. Many dealers should be receiving stock this week and filling pre-orders next week. I am looking forward to testing the new lens on the 5D during my upcoming workshop in China, which begins in a couple of weeks.

Workshop #1 and #3 of my Forbidden Photography series taking place in Toronto on the weekend of November 5, 6 are now almost sold out. Several spaces are still available for the other sessions.

If you have been following the topic of my self-published Bangladesh book, which are now on a cargo ship somewhere on the Pacific Ocean, and are interested in possibly doing something similar yourself, you really owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of the current issue of Lenswork, #60, Sept–Oct, 2005. It contains an essay by Brooks Jensen, the magazine's publisher, titled Some Unvarnished Truths About Book Publishing. This article is a must read, and if you're not already a fan, or a subscriber to this bi-monthly magazine, you owe it to yourself to discover it. To my mind it's the finest magazine about photography (not equipment) published in America today.

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September 27, 2005

Chris and I are pleased to announce that Issue #13 of The Video Journal is now shipping. This issue contains nearly 3 hours of broadcast quality video covering an African Photo Safari, Part 2 of a major workflow / raw processing and Photoshop tutorial (Part 1 is in issue #12), an interview with both the CEO and the head of Product Development at Phase One about the future of medium format digital, and more.

Quicktime preview clips are now online. What are you waiting for? Get your copy of #13 or new subscription now.

– – – –

A reminder that I announced yesterday a small but very special workshop. It's titled Forbidden Photography, and will take place in Toronto on the weekend of November 5, 6. It consists of four separate 3-hour sessions, shooting in The Toronto Brickworks, an abandoned industrial site close to downtown.

There are only 25 spaces available on each of the 4 sessions, and half of them are already gone, so if you are able to participate in this unique opportunity please register right away.

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September 26, 2005

As promised last week I am announcing today a small but very special workshop. It's entitled Forbidden Photography, and will take place in Toronto on the weekend of November 5, 6. It consists of four separate 3-hour sessions, shooting in The Toronto Brickworks, an abandoned industrial site close to downtown.

There are only 25 spaces available on each of the 4 sessions, so if you are able to participate in this unique opportunity please register right away.

– – – –

Olympus announced today the Evolt E-500, a new 4/3 chipped DSLR offering 8 Megapixels from a Kodak designed FFT-CCD sensor chip. Olympus claims wider dynamic range and lower noise over its predecessor, the E-300. Unlike the E-300 the E-500 has more mainstream body styling. It still uses a penta roof mirror rather than a penta prism, but compared to the E-300 the new camera offers a 2.5" daylight viewable LCD, an auto-pop-up flash, and the ability to take xD as well as CF cards. Olympus' unique and very effective Supersonic Wave Filter is retained, virtually eliminating sensor dust.

Based on comparison photographs, the E-500 appears slightly taller than the E-300 but otherwise significantly smaller. It is dramatically smaller than the E1, which always struck me as being much larger than it needed to be for a camera with a 2X factor sensor.

The Olympus E-500 will be available in October and will have a price of "under US $1,100".

– – – –

Please note that the spaces that had become available on my upcoming Antarctic and Namibia expeditions have now all been taken.

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September 24, 2005

Of the two places that opened up earlier this week for my Namibia Workshop Expedition in April, 2006, one has been taken. That leaves one spot still available.
If you would like to take advantage of this rare opening please contact me right away.

Speaking of workshops – I will be announcing a unique half day workshop that will take place in Toronto in early November. It will be titled Forbidden Photography, and will be an opportunity to photograph inside an industrial site that has been closed to the public for more than 50 years. Check this page every day next week for this exciting announcement.

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September 23, 2005

Few recent camera introductions have caused as much interest as that of the Canon 5D. This is a 12.8 Megapixel full frame DSLR, about the same size as most reduced-frame cameras, and priced at just over US $3,000.

I was fortunate to be able to field test a pre-production 5D for two weeks on a trip to Greece and Turkey earlier this month. My Canon 5D Field Report is now on-line, along with a selection of photographs taken on that trip. Please note that because the camera used was pre-production I have not conducted any detailed image analysis. Rather, my report concerns itself with the camera's features, ergonomics and handling.

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September 22, 2005

Regular readers know that I have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of samples from the printer of my new book Bangladesh – First Impressions. This is a self-publishing project that I have been working on for some months.

In an addendum to my article from earlier this summer, I have now added the following update...

On September 20, about 10 weeks after sending off the CD's with final images and text I received a Fedex from China with two copies of the finished book. Needless to say I was very anxious to see how things had turned out, as I know are a number of readers who have been following this process closely.

In a word, the quality of the finished printed book is excellent. Materials, paper, binding, printing, colour balance – everything rates an "A". The quality of production is as good as almost any of the hundreds of photographic books in my collection. The best summary I can give is that I will be proud to sell the book and have my name on it.

I can nit pick. There are a few B&W plates that are not as neutral as I would wish, and on one of the colour plates the balance is a bit off (only I will notice this). But other than these few items it's a printing job that I feel properly reflects the quality of my photographs.

I expect to be able to start shipping the book by early November. Of course it will be announced here prominently when it goes on sale. I will not accept orders online until the book is in stock and ready to ship.

On a more minor note, a new book by Ellen Anon and Tim Grey titled Photoshop for Nature Photographers has just been published. I mention it here, not only because it is a fine book, but also because it contains a chapter written by me on the subject of exposure technique, (Pages 14–18).

On the past few days, in the battle between jet-lag and completing my Canon 5D field report, jet lag won. I will publish it before the end of the week though.

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September 20, 2005

Two spots have just become available on my Namibia Photographic Safari next April (2006). A photographer and his wife have had to withdraw. This means that there is either space for two individuals, or a couple.

This unique expedition, being conducted together with well known African photographic safari leader Andy Biggs, is unlike any trip you have ever experienced. It is suitable for a photographer and his or her non-photographer spouse, as well as individuals. These openings won't last long. This could be the photographic trip that you've dreamed about. Act quickly.

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September 19, 2005

I've now returned from my two week vacation in Greece and Turkey. Great weather, great food, great people. A little photography as well, and as regular readers know, I was using a pre-production Canon 5D, which was a real pleasure. I have a field report almost done and expect to publish it by Wednesday.

The new Home Page photograph is one of my favourite photographs from the trip.

The last two weeks saw the announcement that Konica / Minolta is withdrawing their direct corporate presence in the Canadian marketplace (they'll change over to a distributor), Mamiya has introduced the new medium format 645 AFDII, while Sony has announced the fascinating R1 digicam, with an APS sized 10.3MP sensor. You can read about these developments elsewhere, but I do expect to produce a field report on the R1 once a sample becomes available.

The Discussion Forum crashed while I was away. Thanks to the sterling efforts of administrator Neil Cowley it was quickly brought back to life, though some threads have regrettably been lost. The good news though is that Neil has moved the forum to a more robust database manager and so it is now running much more quickly. It has also had a small cosmetic makeover. My thanks to Neil for his excellent work.

Mike Johnston's most recent, and regrettably last regular column for this site, is now online. Mike has contributed more than 100 weekly and monthly columns over the past three years, and has had a lot of loyal fans of his writings, myself being one of them. He is now turning his energies toward authoring and self publishing several new books about photography. I'm pleased though that Mike has indicated that he will still provide us with the occasional contribution. I'll look forward to them, and wish Mike the very best with his new endeavors.

Video Journal #13 is now at the duplicators and should ship to subscribers before the end of the month. I'll have more information about this here in a couple of days.

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September 3, 2005

I am leaving today for a two week-long trip to Europe – Greece and Turkey specifically. My wife and I are celebrating our anniversary, and in addition to several days in Athens and Istanbul we'll be taking a cruise through the Greek and Turkish islands of the Aegean. As a sometime student of ancient Greek history this is a trip that I've long looked forward to. Of course I expect that it will also be an opportunity to do some serious photography.

That's the good news – for me at least. But the equally good news is that I will be shooting for these two weeks with a pre-production Canon 5D, and expect to have my preliminary review online shortly after I return. In the meantime, after only only day of working with the 5D prior to my trip, I have placed a page online with a few sample images and my impressions of initial image quality.

Due to my travels I do not expect to be online between Sept 3 and 18, and so please do not write, or at least don't expect a response until the end of September. Of course the order processing system for The Video Journal is automated, with customer support ably manned by Steven Sauve, so please don't hesitate to order your single issues and subscriptions. And speaking of the Video Journal, we just filmed the Intro to Issue #13, since Chris is just finishing the final edits this week. We expect to ship before the end of September

Issue #13 will contain an hour-long segment on doing a photo safari in Africa, plus the first half of an exclusive look inside Phase One, with insights into how medium format digital backs are designed and manufactured, and the second part of my Digital Workflow tutorial begun in Issue #12. Please support this site with your subscription to The Video Journal.

I am publishing today two new articles to help tide you over till later in the month. The first is my review of Photo to Movie, a must-have program for anyone that is interested in turning their photographs into animated video presentations. Even if you have no interest in video per-se, this is a powerful yet inexpensive program for both Macs and PCs that can be used to produce professional quality "slide shows" on video.

Mike Johnston raised quite a ruckus last week when he posted a comment on DPreview's Canon discussion forum to the effect that sample images from the new Canon 5D "didn't look all that great to me". Well, that set the cat among the pigeons!

In his column for this week (welcome back Mike), the curmudgeonly Mr. Johnston explores this topic (the fuss, not the camera), and has a look at what he calls The Magic Bullet effect. I couldn't agree more (on this topic – though as seen in my Initial Image Quality Impressions I couldn't disagree more about his judgment on the Canon 5D). But the Magic Bullet syndrome is regrettably a malady from which all too many photographers suffer.

A parting note. Since the announcement of the Canon 5D a number of people online (including Mike in his new column) have been quoting a comment I wrote a couple of years ago in which I called APS-sized sensors "the new 35mm". I would now add that if this is indeed the case, then full frame 35mm is now the new medium format, and with products such as Phase One's new 39 Megapixel P45 back, medium format becomes the new large format. And so it goes.

See you later in September.

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August 31, 2005

There is an area of concern with regard to Richard Sexton's article of last week titled, a Visit to Better Light. But because Richard lives in Louisiana, and contact with him has been sporadic at best these past few days, Mike Collette, the president of Better Light has written a further commentary on the article titled The Rest of The Picture.

If you read the original article I urge you to also read this addendum. As Mike states in his write-up, "IN CONCLUSION, I agree with everything that Mr. Sexton has to say, but if his article is going to let the images speak for themselves, they should be allowed to tell their entire story". The larger images reproduced on the Better Light site do indeed do a better job of telling the complete story.

If you are interested in attending a photographic workshop later this year, or next, have a look at the workshops offered by some of my colleagues. Alain Briot and Andy Biggs have just announced several new workshops. Grab one before they sell out.

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August 30, 2005

The Internet has no end of digicam reviews and articles of interest to newcomers to photography, but relatively little about advanced and professional products. Last week's look at the Better Light scanning back was one such example, and today I'm pleased to continue our coverage of such products with photographer Ralf Lange's perspective on using a medium format digital back with a view camera.

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August 25, 2005

Many landscape and nature photographers are fascinated by the image quality possible from large format scanning backs such as those from Better Light. But long exposure times and high costs, as well as the lack of local dealer availability, can all be deterrents to adoption.

Contributor Richard Sexton provides us today with an exclusive report on his recent Visit to Better Light, and his comparison test of a Better Light Super 6K-HS against 4X5" scanned film, and a Canon 1Ds MKII. Fascinating reading.

UPDATE

Hasselblad has announced two new medium format digital backs, and cameras. The cameras are the H2 and H2D, the latter with integrated 22 Megapixel back. The backs are the first Ixpress (previously Imacon) backs with built in CF card recording capability. Of particular interest is that Hasselblad has adopted the Adobe's DNG is their native raw format. Well done Hasselblad!

You can read all about the new products on the Hasselblad USA web site.

UPDATE

There is a news report today from German Television that Leica has been saved from insolvency by an investment of Euros 23 Million by the luxury goods company Hermes, one of its corporate owners, and the Austrian company ACM. This is the second time in as many years that Leica has teetered on the brink. Let's hope that the company can accelerate the development of its Digital M camera, as this looks to be the one product that might save this grand old lady of photography from functional irrelevance in today's digital-oriented marketplace.

Now if Leica had the inclination or wherewithal to produce its superb R series lenses in fully functional mounts for major DLSR camera systems such as Canon, they'd have a new source of revenue as well as enhanced market cache, relevance, and distribution channel penetration. Possible? Yes! Likely? Who knows?

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August 22, 2005

In what Canon had hoped would be a surprise announcement, but which was spoiled by an inadvertent pre-release about a week ago, the company has officially announced today three new products of interest to professional and advanced amateur photographers.

These are the Canon EOS 5D, the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS lens, and the Canon Speedlight 430.

The 5D is a 13 Megapixel full-frame DSLR that is similar in size to the current Canon 20D and other APS-sized sensor cameras. It will retail for around US $3,500 and will be available worldwide in October. I believe that the 5D is the most significant new digital camera announcement in some time, and that its appearance will have a dramatic effect on the rest of the industry, as well as it likely becoming one of Canon's best selling digital SLRs to date.

My initial impressions of the 5D and the other two new products are now online.

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August 21, 2005

The space that had become available for my 2006 Namibia photographic expedition has now been filled. Thanks to everyone that enquired.

One of the most experienced and respected teachers in the field of digital photography is Steven Johnson. Located in Pacifica, California, Steve offers in-house as well as location workshops on a broad range of photographic topics.

Steve has just announced his latest series of workshops. You can find out more about them, as well as offerings by other trusted and recommended teachers through links on my Workshops page.

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August 19, 2005

Moore's Law and its corollaries continue to have their effect on all products that use microprocessors and silicon imaging devices. Five years ago a1080i High Definition video camera cost $100,000 and took two arms to lift. Two years ago the price had dropped to $30,000, and late last year $5,000. Last month Sony introduced the first High Definition Camcorder for consumers priced at under $2,000, the Sony HDR-HC1. I have been shooting with an HC1 for the past several weeks, and my review is now online.

Canon Australia has announced (or accidentally pre-announced more likely) a new Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS lens. With its relatively fast aperture and useful focal length range this looks like it will become a standard walk-around lens for many amateurs and pros in the days ahead.

Update: The page in question on the Canon AU site has been removed. Someone's hands are likely going to be slapped – big time. It will be back, though the employee who posted it may not.

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August 17, 2005

Christopher Smith is an Adobe Certified Expert in Photoshop. His new column for this site titled Digital Artifacts – The Colour Gremlins is the first of a series that will be appearing exclusively on this site in the months ahead.

My friend, and talented wildlife photography instructor and African Safari workshop leader Andy Biggs, has just published his new limited edition portfolio. If you're a collector of fine-art photography this will definitely be worth your consideration.

Please remember to support this site by subscribing to The Video Journal – the world's only DVD-based visual magazine about photography. We accept no advertising, and have no commercial relationships. Without your support through single issue purchases and subscriptions to The Video Journal this site can not continue to exist. Our DVDs can be played on any DVD player in any country in the world.

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August 13, 2005

An opening has just become available in my April, 2006 Namibia Photographic Safari. This unique photographic expedition is designed for the experienced photographer who wants to visit one of the world's most remarkable landscapes with a select group of passionate photographers. Due to accommodation sharing this spot is only available to a male.

If you can take advantage of this opening you'll need to act quickly. Read the outline and then drop me a line right away. We can then make arrangements to talk about it further.

UPDATE: This space has now been filled.

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August 12, 2005

Photographers are always curious as to the real cost of running their printer. Ink, paper, depreciation, wastage – all are factors that need to be considered. Mark Segal is an economist as well as an ardent photographer and Epson 4000 owner. Put the two skill sets together and you've got his exclusive new article for this site titled Epson 4000 Operating Cost Analysis.

The annual Perseids meteor shower takes place the night of Aug 12–13. If you have clear skies this evening try your hand at photographing this wonderful event.

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August 10, 2005

Last week I began a new series of articles in which I'll be looking from time to time at video production tools such as camcorders. Today sees the publication of my review of the JVC-MC500, a pocket-sized camcorder that points to the future of video by shooting to Microdrives rather than videotape.

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August 9, 2005

In an interesting medium format digital development, MegaVison, one of the early companies in the digital environment, but one which has been out of the picture, so to speak, for the past few years, is back with a new line of uniquely designed medium format digital backs. You can read more about them here, as well as on this site's Discussion Forum, if you're registered. These new backs will be shown at PhotoPlus Expo in New York in late October.

The Leica Digital Module R is now shipping. If you have a Leica R8 or R9, or fancy those superb Leica R lenses on a DSLR, then this may be what you've been waiting for. Uwe Steinmueller @Digital Outback Photo now has his Experience Report with the DMR online.

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August 6, 2005

The world of medium format digital continues to evolve. Even as some established camera companies sink into the sunset, and others waiver on the brink of financial dissolution, digital back makers continue to introduce new and exciting products.

Leaf is now shipping their eagerly awaited Aptus 22 back for almost all major medium format camera systems. Last week I had the opportunity to spend several days testing an Aptus 22 on a Hasselblad H1 system. My Preliminary Hands-On Review is now online.

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August 3, 2005

Do you own a video camera? Does your digicam, PDA or cell phone have video capability? Do you have any interest in shooting video in a serious way? Did you know that you can now buy a 1080i High Definition video camera for less than $2,000?

If the answer to any of the above is yes, then you may want to read my newest article titled Videography for Photographers.

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July 31, 2005

Mike Johnston's column for this Sunday is titled Nothing About Noise. Read it, or else! Or else you might continue to think that grain and noise are a problem.

Fans of Mike's unique weekly column should note that he will be on vacation through the month of August. His column will resume September 4th.

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July 29, 2005

This is a heads-up on what to expect on the site in the coming week.

Sunday will see Mike Johnston’s latest column, and then early in the week an exclusive article which takes a look at Videography for Still Photographers. Toward the end of the week I’ll be publishing a hands-on review of the exciting new Leaf Aptus 22 digital back.

Remember, the more than 2,000 pages of products reviews, tutorials, columns, essays and travel pieces – this entire site – is only possible because of people who subscribe to The Video Journal, the world’s only DVD magazine about photography. Find out more now, and please support this site and its future. (We have subscribers in more than 50 countries worldwide).

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July 26, 2005

A few readers have taken me to task for last week’s essay Clumps and Chumps – Does Film Outresolve Digital? The reason for their concern was that they felt that I was dredging up an old topic that had long been settled.

Two thoughts – firstly, the essay wasn’t about film vs. digital per se. I hoped that this would be clear from my statement in the first paragraph that “in real-world photographs digital is incontrovertibly sharper than film”. Rather, it was about the dangers of making conclusions on technical topics, where all of the information is either unavailable or subject to faulty interpretation.

But, even though it’s all over but the shouting, there still are some who are seduced by some of the very real merits of shooting film, and some of these people are very experienced and knowledgeable photographers. Case in point, Pete Myers, a professional fine-art photographer who has contributed to this site before.

In his new essay titled Enough Already, he explains his love affair with B&W, film and Leicas.

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July 22, 2005

One of the hot debates that pops up every now and then on web discussion forums is, does film outresolve digital? Though the evidence of their own eyes tells the experienced photographer that indeed digital appears to have higher resolution than film, there is always some expert with his convincing photographs of high resolution test charts along with graphs and data tables, that proves otherwise. What gives?

Though I am by no means an authority in these matters (I'm a photographer and teacher, not a scientist or engineer), it requires some knowldge to understand why these pointless debates keep coming up. To find out what this is about, you can read Clumps and Chumps – Does Film Outresolve Digital?

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Update: In my report earlier this week on Phase One's three new digital backs, I mentioned that I believed that the new chips being used were from Dalsa. I was wrong. They're from Kodak.

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Thanks to everyone that has responded to our Video Journal #13 promotion. The response has been overwhelming. If you don't yet know what this is about, read the entry below for July 19. And if you don't know what the Video Journal is, now's a good time to find out more.

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Update: Mike Johnston is on vacation and so there will not be a Sunday Morning Photographer column this weekend.

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July 19, 2005

A great many people have purchased single issues of Video Journal #12 during the past couple of months. Issue #13 is now in preparation, and scheduled for delivery to subscribers before the end of September. It contains a major travel feature on an African Photo Safari, a look at the work of large format landscape photographer Clyde Butcher, and Part 2 of my Digital Workflow Tutorial. It also will contain a visit to the Phase One manufacturing facility in Copenhagen, and interviews with key company executives about the future of medium format digital.

For those who enjoyed #12 and would now like to subscribe, we have three special promotions..

– a new 4-issues subscription beginning with #13, and including a free copy of Issue #4, which includes..

* Technique: Street & Documentary Photography
* On Location: White Sands, Antelope Canyon, Canyon de Chelly
* Technique: Super Telephoto Technique
* Tutorial: Digital Imaging Primer (Part 1)

– a new 4-issues subscription beginning with #13, including Issues #7 through #11

– all previous issues (except #12 which you already have), plus a new 4-issue subscription beginning with issue #13. All previous issues are shipped to you immediately by Federal Express, to anywhere in the world, at no additional charge.

These promotions won't last long. Find out more, and subscribe here. Click on LLVJ Promotions on the left-hand frame of that page.

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The hyper-aggressive rate of development in the digital camera industry is seen in an announcement yesterday (as reported by DPReview) by Konica Minolta and Sony that they have agreed to mutually develop DSLRs using the Minolta lens mount. KM has some of the industry's best user interface design capabilities, and Sony some excellent imaging chips. Together they're going to present some welcome new competition to Canon and Nikon.

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July 17, 2005

It's Sunday morning once again, and this week Mike Johnston looks at the topic of Modes.

Following yesterday's report on Phase One's three new medium format backs, several people have written asking if these will still be produced for the discontinued Contax system. The answer is a definite yes. And as for Contax itself, all I can say at this point is – it ain't over yet.

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July 16, 2005

I am pleased this morning to publish an exclusive report on three new medium format backs from Phase One. The flagship is the P45, a potentially awesome 39 Megapixel self-contained medium format digital back – the largest single-shot imager yet announced – capable of recording a quarter Gigabyte image in 16 bit mode.

Phase One has also unveiled the rest of its product plans for the next 18 months, including high-speed wireless transmission from all P series backs, faster CF card performance, and next-generation raw software. And much to my personal delight, they have announced their formal commitment to the DNG raw format.

You can read all about this, and more, including specs on the new P30 and P21 backs, pricing, availability and trade-in programs, in my exclusive article titled Phase One Takes the High Ground.

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July 15, 2005

Doing B&W conversion of digital images is as much art as it is science. It can be as simple as Image / Mode / Grayscale, or involve intensive use of Channel Mixer. But my favourite method is to use the excellent plug-in ConvertToBW Pro from theimagingfactory.

Version 3.0 has been available for some time now for the Mac, but has just become available for Windows. A 30-day unrestricted trial is available for download. Highly recommended.

Minolta has apparently announced a new DSLR to compete with the entry-level Canon Rebel/XT and Nikon D50. Dubbed the 5D, it retains the excellent anti-shake technology first seen in the 7D last year. You can read more about it at DPReview.

I say apparently, because as far as I can tell someone at Konica Minolta forgot to send out the press releases. At least, they didn't send one to me. (Not so subtle jab intended). They did put up a web site though, so maybe they want consumers to know about it but not the media.

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July 13, 2005

I had an opportunity to spend a few days shooting with the new Tamron SP 11-18 f/4.5-5.6 Di II LD lens. This lens is specifically designed for reduced frame DSLRs. My quick-look review is now online.

Phase One has just announced the availability of two updates – Capture One Pro 3.7.1, and new firmware 3.3.4 for P-series medium format backs.

This new version of Capture One includes support for several new cameras, including the Nikon D2HS, D70s, D50 and Epson R-D1. Both the PC and Mac versions are claimed to provide extensive bug fixes, which is a good thing, as 3.6 had a lot of problems.

Owners of current Phase One P20 and P25 backs will be pleased to learn that new firmware is now available for download as well. Featured are enhanced LCD brightness and something dubbed 3S Technology, which allows more confident in-back CF formatting, and Disk Check, which does a complete CF card validation upon insertion. Of special note is that when used specifically with Sandisk Extreme III cards write speeds of up to 20 mb/s are now claimed to be possible.

Both of these updates are available immediately from the Phase One web site.

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July 11, 2005

The American Society of Media Photographers, Inc., has issued a release today stating ASMP’s position on proprietary RAW formats. It reads as follows...

The American Society of Media Photographers is deeply concerned at the developing crisis that is threatening continued access to the world’s photographic heritage. The RAW format1 is fast becoming the standard for professional and other serious imaging. Encryption and the abandonment and termination of support for older RAW formats put in jeopardy the future use of many digital photographs.

As a result, the ability of photographers, clients, librarians, educators, and the public at large to access, use and control the photographs that make up our historical heritage and the economic livelihoods of professional photographers is at serious risk.

It is urgent that the manufacturers of digital cameras look beyond their respective, short-term business plans and act for the good of future generations. ASMP implores them to do so and offers to work with them and all other interested parties towards ongoing and open access to images without regard to proprietary technology. The visual history of the world requires no less.

Additional information is available at the following web addresses:

http://photoshopnews.com/2005/05/11/digital-preservation/
http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/raw-flaw.shtml
http://www.openraw.org/
http://www.rawformat.com/

We urge you to support this prestigious organization, as well as other concerned photographers regarding this important issue.

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July 10, 2005

Mike Johnston's new-found love affair with digital continues, in – The Tale Told by Two Pictures, his Sunday Morning column for this week.

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July 9, 2005

Regular readers will know that Mike Johnston has been writing a regular weekly (sometimes monthly) column for this site for several years. He recently posted the 100th such column here.

Mike also has recently self-published an anthology of his non-technical writings in a book titled The Empirical Photographer. My mini-review is now online.

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July 8, 2005

Due to ill health one of the members of my China Expedition / Workshop in October has had to drop out. There is therefore one spot available for this trip – for a male (due to room sharing).

If you are interested in joining me on this unique adventure, please read over the announcement page and contact me as soon as possible.

Update: Sorry, this position has now been filled.

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July 6, 2005

Have you ever thought about publishing a book of your photographs? Not just an inkjet portfolio, but a book – hardcover, 4 colour, offset printed, about 100 pages?

Many photographers have, but then they discover that the new skills required, and the costs, are prohibitive. Of course one could always try finding a publisher, but the world of fine-art photographic books is crowded and competitive, and even if you do get a publishing deal, are you willing to settle for just an 8% financial return after all that hard work? No, I thought not.

But still the dream of seeing ones work in a coffee table book, with high quality reproduction, is one that lives on. How then to accomplish this at a cost that doesn't break the bank?

In my newest article – Private Photographic Book Publishing – Producing Your Own Book – I share my experience in undertaking such a project, and show how you can as well.

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July 3, 2005

Mike Johnston tells us more in this Sunday's column about his new love – the Konica-Minolta 7D, in Catch the Rave!.

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When I first published my Epson 4800 review a couple of days ago I criticized Epson for the continuing poor quality of their Mac printer driver. It has subsequently been brought to my attention that the fault for this lies more heavily with Apple than with Epson, so I removed that section from the review as being counterproductive.

I also have revisited the improvement in Dmax on Matte papers. My initial comment was that it is not as noticeable as as with Glossy papers, where the improvement is quite striking. On further examination I must admit that I was too conservative in my initial assessment. Blacks on matte paper are noticeably improved as well.

The bottom line is that with the new K3 Epson printers one gets more saturated colours, better Dmax, reduced bronzing and reduced metamerism. All of these are good things. But with the 4800 these come with a price, the lack of ability to change between glossy and matte papers without a serious hit in lost ink. What Epson giveth, Epson taketh away. But it is the best photographic printer – ever. I wanted perfection – damnit.

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July 1, 2005

The Epson Stylus Pro 4800 just started to ship a couple of weeks ago. This, along with the Stylus Photo 2400 are the first of the Ultrachrome K3 ink printers. How does it perform, and why am I somewhat disappointed? Find out in my just published first impressions review.

Digital Outback Photo has just published their first diary instatement on the new Epson 2400.

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June 29, 2005

Since it's announcement some 10 months ago there has been a lot of anticipation about the world's first self-contained 22 Megapixel medium format camera, the Mamiya ZD. But though initially promised for early 2005 delivery it is now summer, and the camera still is not shipping. But apparently there are some 40 pre-production prototypes out for demonstration and testing, and German photographer Claus Possberg recently had an opportunity to spend some time handling one of these. His report, freely translated from the original German, is now available exclusively here.

A reminder that we publish the world's only DVD video magazine about photography – The Video Journal. It is sales of the Video Journal that keep this site in existence, because we don't accept any advertising. This is the site's only source of revenue.

If you haven't checked out what this is about, why not take a moment and do so? Read what subscribers are saying, watch some preview video clips, and of course – we hope you'll either subscribe or purchase a single issue. We also now have a special promotion on...

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June 27, 2005

Mike Johnston's new column looks at this week's industry news as well as his new favourite camera.

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June 23, 2005

During the past year I have visited with the two major medium format chip makers – Dalsa and Kodak, and wrote brief articles about them in an attempt to learn more about this little covered aspect of the professional digital camera marketplace.

Earlier this month, together with director / cameraman Chris Sanderson, I visited Phase One's head offices in Copenhagen, Denmark. We filmed several interviews with Phase management team members and also had a look at the company's manufacturing facilities and how medium format backs are designed and built. This will appear as a segment in the next issue of The Video Journal, but in the meantime I have now published an article on what I saw during my fascinating visit with Phase One.

The Home Page photograph has been updated with one taken in Copenhagen.

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UPDATE

Canon's firmware update of May 31st for the 1D and 1Ds Mark II models fixed some problems, but introduced new ones. Canon now has new firmware downloads available: 1D MKII : 1Ds MKII

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June 21, 2005

The name Alain Briot is well known to regular readers of this site. Many of you will recall that in addition to being an author and teacher Alain is a successful landscape photographer who has been working for the past couple of decades primarily with 4X5" view cameras.

But now, Alain has seen the light (so to speak), and has recently added a Canon 1Ds MKII to his repertoire. Find out Alain's thoughts on this important transition in his newest essay titled – 1Ds Mark II and 4x5.

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June 19, 2005

Mike Johnston's column for this week is titled The "Compact Disc Effect" and the Konica-Minolta Maxxum 7D.

As excellent a device as the Epson P2000 is, spare batteries are expensive. Here is a very clever way of recharging in the field using AA batteries, at a very modest cost.

The Home Page photograph has been updated.

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June 17, 2005

As I was travelling last weekend Mike Johnston's latest missive didn't appear. So, better late than never, I now give you Keeping Up.

The product news from Kodak these days appears to be regarding which products are being discontinued. Joining this growing list is one that I didn't expect to see for a while yet – B&W printing paper. But, it's sadly true. The times they are a-changin.

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June 16, 2005

I returned last night from my week-long shoot in Norway, which also included a two day visit at the Phase One factory in Copenhagen, Denmark. It will take me a couple of days to get caught up with outstanding e-mails, and new articles should start to appear here again before the weekend.

The new home page photograph was one taken as we were driving at about 10:30pm (the sun didn't set for almost another hour). We had just exited one of the long tunnels under the mountains that the fiord region of northwestern Norway is famous for, and saw this lovely scene from an overlook at the end of the tunnel.

Articles on this shoot, along with a portfolio of images, the visit with Phase One, and my experience working with Norwegian nature photographer Bjorn Rorslett, will appear here over the next few weeks. These will also be featured as segments in an upcoming issue of The Video Journal.

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June 7, 2005

I am now offline until Thursday, June 16th. I will be traveling in Scandinavia for a week. First stop is Copenhagen, where Chris and I will be visiting the Phase One factory. They have offered us an opportunity to film inside their facility and to see how medium format digital backs are designed and assembled. We will also have a chance to interview their researchers, engineers, and senior management, to gain a better understanding of both the technology and economics of this segment of the industry. This will all be featured in Issue #13 of The Video Journal, coming this fall, and also here on these pages in the weeks ahead.

We will then fly to Oslo, Norway at the end of the week, where we will meet up with Bjorn Rorslett, Norway's leading nature photographer. Bjorn will be our guide and shooting companion for the next five days, and we also expect to interview him for an upcoming Video Journal segment as well as documenting our photographic exploration together of the mountains and fiords of Norway.

And, speaking of which – are you a subscriber yet? You're not? Well, what are you waiting for? At least try the current issue for just $19.95. It contains more than three hours of broadcast quality video content exclusively about photography, and like this site is completely commercial free. These DVDs will play on any DVD player, including Macs and PCs, anywhere in the world.

Until the 16th, enjoy the more than 2,000 pages of articles, tutorials, essays and product reviews on this site. The Contents page is a good place to start. And, don't forget to support the Openraw initiative.

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June 5, 2005

Mike Johnston recently wrote his 100th Sunday Morning Photographer column for this site. Initially these were weekly, but then as the pressure of his commercial writing obligations increased they became monthly.

Now, Mike, after obviously figuring out how to clone himself, has decided to try for a weekly column once again. This week's is titled "Tough" and "Sweet".

A few days ago, I commented negatively about the fact that the Upstrap was difficult for non-US customers to order. The company has been very responsive, and now has implemented Paypal, and will be adding international credit card ordering shortly. I've therefore removed my criticism of the company from Sean Reid's review.

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June 2, 2005

Does your camera have the dropsy? Do you constantly find yourself grabbing at the camera's neck strap as it slides from your shoulder? Has life got ya down Bunkey?

Well, Sean Reid has the solution with his look at the Upstrap. (Never say that we don't vary the pace around here).

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Update: A number of people have noticed Microsoft's announcement about including RAW file support in their next generation OS, and that Nikon is working with them on this, along with Adobe and Canon, among others. Some have seen this as some sort of turn-around or solution to the concerns that have been expressed here and elsewhere about proprietary and encrypted file formats. It isn't.

The OpenRAW Forum has now published a commentary on this, which is worth reading if this issue is of interest and importance to you.

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June 1, 2005

As many had expected in recent months, Kodak has just announced that it is terminating its DCS Pro SLR model cameras, specifically the Pro/n and Pro/c. This follows the discontinuation about a year ago of the medium format DCS Pro Back line. Kodak remains in the digicam market, where they are one of the sales leaders.

Though I was never a fan of the Pro 14n or its successors, it is a shame to see the company that essentially invented the DSLR retreating from this market segment. We're all the poorer for it.

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Digital Outback Photo has released a new e-book titled "The Art of RAW Conversion, Optimal image Quality from Photoshop CS2 and Leading RAW Converters". This book covers RAW conversion based on a real-world experience. Also topics like color management, DNG and B&W are covered. The RAW converters featured are Camera Raw 3.x, RawShooter, Canon DPP, Capture One, Nikon Capture and Bibble 4.x.

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Update: PDN Online now has a hands-on preview of the eagerly awaited Mamiya ZD. Though it's been 9 months now since first shown, and several months past intended ship date, the camera still needs work on its image processing capabilities before being ready for photographers. But, progress appears to be continuing. Let's hope that the ZD makes it to market soon. The rest of the MF industry needs the price competition.

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Update: Canon has announced that the Canon 20a, first introduced in Japan in February, will be become available in the rest of the world. You can read more about it here and here.

But, according to correspondant Peter Burian, based on information from Robgalbraith.com , and contrary to some published reports, Chuck Westfall of Canon US indicates that the 20Da will not be particularly more sensitive to true infrared light: the camera’s optical infrared filtering is still expected to roll off hard above 700 nanometers, which is about where infrared begins in the electromagnetic spectrum. The camera will be about 250% more sensitive to light in the 656 nanometer band than the standard 20D, says Westfall, which will make it well-suited to astrophotographs of hydrogen-rich reddish diffuse nebulae.

This means that the camera’s sensor is still located behind a filter designed to limit the amount of infrared, just as with 20D. This is a low-pass type to minimize colour artifacting and moiré. The main sensor-related difference between the 20D and the 20Da will be sensitivity to the 656 nanometer band of the visible spectrum. The 20Da also displays a live, magnified through-the-lens view on the rear LCD monitor. This will only work when the reflex mirror in the camera is locked up, and then only for dim scenes (like distant star clusters).

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Update: in a report that appears today on DPReview, Microsoft has announced that its next version of the Windows OS, code-named Longhorn, will support native RAW file formats. Longhorn is still about a year from introduction, but this is a welcome development. It should be noted that Mac OS 10.4 (Tiger), released a couple of months ago, already has native RAW file support built into the OS. Is anyone at Adobe getting nervous?

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It's time for a reminder, as I do from time to time. This site is made possible through the support from subscriptions to The Video Journal, our unique DVD video magazine about all aspects of photography. If you value this site, and are looking for an entertaining and educational photographic resource, then The Video Journal has your name on it. These broadcast quality video disks play on any DVD player or computer, anywhere in the world.

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May 31, 2005

By now most readers are familiar with what is currently the most important issue facing photographers this decade. That is – the closed, proprietary, and proliferating number of RAW file formats. Even more distressing is that there are now camera makers who are encrypting some of their RAW data.

An article on this subject and a petition to the camera makers asking them to adopt open standards was published here and on several other web sites last week. Response from photographers has been positive, though I must say that the disinclination of some of the larger commercial photography review sites to even mention the current issue is disappointing. But, regardless of which side of the debate one is on, there is more to the issue than photographers asking for unfettered access to their own files. There are legal ramifications as well.

For example, we know that Adobe has stated its concerns about the legal ramifications of breaking Nikon's encrypted white balance code, that has prevented Adobe from incorporating this data in their Nikon D2x interpretation in Camera Raw. But, there is another side to the legal coin. Are the various digital camera makers that encrypt and otherwise impede photographers and software writers from freely accessing the data in their RAW files breaking any laws by doing so?

In an exclusive article for this site, titled RAW File Encryption and Competition Law, one of Canada's leading competition law lawyers, Andrew J. Roman, takes a look at issues such at Tied Selling, Refusal to Deal, and Abuse of Dominant Position. While these observations pertain to Canadian law, Mr. Roman makes it clear that most countries have similar laws, and so these practices may well be found to be contrary to laws and regulations in other countries as well. And, unlike much of the posturing and opinions that appear in web commentaries, these are from an experienced litigator who has presented cases to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Camera makers would be advised to take his observations with greater seriousness than they have thus far shown to the concerns of their customers.

Update: Firmware updates are now available for the Canon 1D MKII and 1Ds MKII. These are reported to fix some of the lockup and lost file problems reported on here and on various other sites over the past few months.

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May 29, 2005

Mike Johnston's column for June is his annual Bokeh Ratings and Lens Awards. Fun stuff.

Tuesday will see the publication on this site of an exclusive article on the legal considerations associated with raw file data encryption by camera makers. It is written by one of the foremost experts in this field. Don't miss it.

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May 27, 2005

Most photographers know that the most common working colour space is Adobe RGB 98. But what they may not know is that their digital SLR likely produces a much wider colour gamut than this, and by limiting themselves to Adobe RGB they may be throwing away or compressing available colour data.

ProPhoto RGB is therefore a valuable alternative, and this is the subject of my newest article – Understanding ProPhoto RGB.

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Jeff Schewe at PhotoshopNews has just published the second part of his highly informative article on DNG Workflow. Important reading!

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I know I'll likely take some heat for writing this (what else is new?), but have you noticed which of the popular photography web sites have supported the Raw Flaw initiative and petition, and which haven't? If not, connect the dots between which ones carry camera maker's advertising on their sites, and which don't. Just an observation.

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May 24, 2005

As you may be aware, the world of digital photography has a serious problem. It's called The RAW Flaw. It is the result of both proprietary and encrypted RAW files, which prevent us, the owners of the images that we create, from having full and unfettered access to our own files.

Today, Juergen Specht of the OpenRAW Working Group and I have co-authored and published an outline of the problem and our concerns. We will be joined in this effort by many of the publishers of the web's leading photographic sites. We have also started a world-wide petition aimed at the major digital camera makers, requesting that they adopt open documentation for their past, present, and future RAW formats as well as an open RAW file standard.

We urge you to carefully read about The RAW Flaw and then to add your voice to those that wish to have open and documented RAW files, providing us with full and easy accessibility to our own photographs.

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And speaking of RAW files – Jeff Schewe at PhotoshopNews has just published a highly informative new article on DNG Workflow. This is Part 1 of two, with the second part to appear later this week. Important reading!

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May 21, 2005

Most photographers understand the necessity of working with a monitor that has been properly profiled and calibrated. But what you may not know is that there is more sophisticated software available than the one that came with your hardware device.

Among the best software monitor and calibration software on the market is ColorEyes Display, which is now reviewed for this site.

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Though many of the sessions are sold out, there are a few places left for my May 25, 26 seminars in Toronto, together with Jon Pannozzo the president of Colorbyte, titled Print Without Limits. This will feature two repeating 2-hour presentations on Wednesday, as an introductory overview, and three repeating 2-hour session on Thursday, with a more detailed look at products and techniques. The Imageprint RIP will be featured, and colour managed workflow will be explored in some detail.

You can read more about this lecture series on the Vistek web site. Co-sponsors are Colorbyte and Epson. Admission is $25 / seminar, and a Vistek credit will be given toward selected future product purchases.

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Creo has just announced that the Leaf Aptus 17 and 22 medium format backs are now shipping. These were reported on here in a preview earlier this past week.

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May 20, 2005

Canon US has released an advisory to owners of 1D MKII and 1Ds MKII cameras concerning lock-up problems, and the possibility of lost files under certain circumstances with all current Canon digital cameras when using Lexar 80X Compactflash cards.

The MKII lock up problem has been seen by many photographers, and was believed to be related to the use of cards over 2GB, including Microdrives. It appears though to be a more generic problem with these cameras. A firmware update to address it has been promised by the end of May. (Guess this means I can start using my 4Gb Hitachi Microdrives again soon).

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May 18, 2005

The medium format digital back segment remains hot, with strong sales into the pro market, and new models appearing on a regular basis. Among the eagerly awaited new backs are those from Creo / Leaf – the Aptus 17 and 22.

I recently had an opportunity to spend an afternoon with Leaf's Product Marketing Manager and the 22 Megapixel model. My Aptus 22 First Impressions report is now online.

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I am looking for someone in the Toronto area who owns a Leica R8 or R9 and a reasonable selection of Leica R lenses to work with me on a research project. If you're interested, please e-mail me.

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May 17, 2005

There's a lot of excitement about Epson's new line of printers and Ultrachrome K3 inks. One of the most anticipated areas is with regard to B&W printing using the new Advanced B&W Mode.

Jeff Schewe is a beta tester for Epson, and has been working with an R2400 printer for more than 5 months. He now provides us with an inside look at how this printer and the Ultrachrome K3 inks perform when making B&W prints. This report is found on PhotoshopNews.com, a site would you should permanently bookmark and visit on a regular basis. Loads of useful and timely information.

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May 16, 2005

Mike Johnston's column for May, though late, is now online. It is titled – Why 40mm? Thought provoking as ever.

And, since you probably haven't been keeping count, this is the 100th column by Mike to appear on this site. How time flies when you're having fun. Thanks Mike!

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In case you live in or near Toronto, and you missed the announcement last month, next week – on May 25, 26, together with Jon Pannozzo, the president of Colorbyte, I will be doing a two day seminar titled Print Without Limits. This will feature two repeating 2-hour presentations on Wednesday, as an introductory overview, and three repeating 2-hour session on Thursday, with a more detailed look at products and techniques. The Imageprint RIP will be featured, and colour managed workflow will be explored in some detail.

You can read more about this lecture series, being presented in Toronto by Vistek, on their web site. Co-sponsors are Colorbyte and Epson. Admission is $25 / seminar, and a Vistek credit will be given toward selected future product purchases.

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May 15, 2005

Wilhelm Research has just published test results for the new UltraChrome K3 inks, using an Epson 9800 printer. Colour prints on various media appear to have permanence ratings similar to those for previous Ultrachrome inks. But, the results for black-and-white prints made using the Epson driver's new Advanced B&W Mode, which only uses the three-level, highly stable carbon pigment based black inks, show dramatic improvement over the already high numbers shown for colour.

For example, on Epson Enhanced Matte paper B&W prints show permanence ratings of greater than 325 years framed under glass, and over 220 years unframed. These are numbers comparable to archivally processed traditional silver gelatin prints, and represent a real breakthrough. As I see it, what this means is that while for a couple of years we've had colour inkjet prints that exceed the permanence of any colour process to date (except Tri-chrome Carbro, which no one does any more), we now have with these K3 inks B&W printing technology without the hassle of third-party inks, that actually matches or exceeds traditional chemical prints.

Hey Dad, are we there yet? Yup – sure looks like it son.

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May 14, 2005

Regular readers are aware that well-known landscape photographer Alain Briot has been writing a remarkable series of exclusive essays for this site titled Esthetics and Photography. Today Alain provides us with Installment Ten – Being an Artist. If photography is more than a hobby or business for you I highly recommend this new installment.

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Do you have more than 1GB of RAM installed in your computer and have Photoshop CS2 installed? If so you may not be aware that there is a provided plug-in that allows Photoshop to access memory above 1GB in a more efficient way. How to activate this plug-in is found on the Adobe Knowledgebase.

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As I do from time to time – a reminder: Because we do not accept any advertising or have any commercial relationships this site's continued existence requires that readers support us though single issue purchases and subscriptions to The Video Journal – the world's only DVD-based magazine about photography. Have you subscribed yet?

If not, you probably wonder what your $20 is going to get you. How useful can it really be? Well – take a moment and read what other photographers have to say.

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May 13, 2005

Due to a couple of cancellations spaces have opened up on two of my upcoming workshops; Antarctica in December, and Namibia in April, '06.

If you would like to take advantage of either of these opportunities, read the relevant pages and contact me by email ASAP, and I'll provide additional information. Please note that in both cases accommodations are shared (male).

Update: Sorry – both places have Sold Out since this notice first appeared. You may add your name to the waitlist.

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May 12, 2005

Sean Reid has been contributing to this site for quite a while, most recently with his in-depth reviews of the Epson R-D1 camera system and lenses. Though the R-D1 is a niche product, it is of considerable interest to those who value rangefinder cameras as it is currently the only true RF digital camera on the market. And, the fact that it can take just about any Leica screw mount or M mount lens ever made makes it an object of some fascination.

In his exclusive article for this site, Sean today provides us with a major review of the available high-speed lenses for this camera.

Warning #1: This article is BIG. There are over 11 Megabytes of included reference images. If you are on a slow dial-up connection you may not want to bother, or have patience.

Warning #2: This article is not for the beginner. It is for the serious lens aficionado who understands that lenses have character, and are about more than LP/MM measurements and MTF functions. But the article will likely prove to be of interest to any photographer who values fine lenses and how they draw light.

If these warnings haven't deterred you, you can now read Sean Reid's Fast Lenses for the Epson R-D1.

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There is a very interesting article online at the Digital Printmakers Guild titled Printer Permanence and You, written by Amadou Diallo. If you do fine-art inkjet printing you'll likely find it informative.

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Many people in the online community are familiar with Michael Tapes, and the role that he's played in the raw workflow and products community over the past few years. Pixmantec, the publishers of Rawshooter Essentials (Windows only), has just announced the appointment of Michael as Executive Consultant. Michael is owner of RawWorkflow.com, and will be head-up Pixmantec's community relationships, using his extensive experience – having previously held a similar responsibility for Capture One RAW conversion software. A PDF of the Press Release is available.

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And, speaking of Capture One, Version 3.7 of this leading raw software was just introduced, and is now available for download by registered owners. (Note that while C1 3.7 supports the new Nikon D2x, as with Adobe and Camera Raw 3.1, they are unable to support the camera's White Balance properly because of Nikon's bone-headed policy of encryption).

– – –

Update:

Leica's Digital Module R for their R8/R9 camera bodies was supposed to ship this month, but has been delayed for some weeks, apparently while Imacon (who is developing the firmware) does some final tweaking. In the meantime the latest issue of Leica Fotografie International magazine has a review of the back in its May, 2005 issue, and that review is now available online as a PDF file.

It's interesting to note that Leica and Imacon have adopted the DNG raw format as their native standard for the Leica Module R. Good for them! It's refreshing to see when companies embrace open standards.

And, speaking of new high-end digital products, Mamiya has been awfully quiet about the ZD camera and back. It's now been 9 months since announcement. Clearly there's as much magic as science in getting first rate digital products to market, even for major manufacturers, if they don't have native strength in digital hardware and software.

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May 11, 2005

Interest in the just-announced Epson K3 printers is very high, but there are few people who have yet seen sample prints, let alone having been able to make their own. Viewing scans of samples online is to my mind somewhat like making love while wearing a wet suit – not terribly much fun, or productive. What on earth do you expect to see?

But fine-art photographer Joseph Holmes of California has been printing with an Epson Pro 9800 and UltraChromeK3 inks, and has a gallery exhibit of these prints coming up. Read more about his impressions of this exciting technology here. Worth reading.

Creo Leaf is about to ship their 22 Megapixel Aptus 22 and 17 medium format backs before the end of May. I recently had an opportunity to examine one at length along with some test exposures. My first impressions will be online later this week.

Coming up as well are Mike Johnston's column for May, as well as Alain Briot's 10th installment of his on-going Aesthetics and Photography series. As they say in TV-land – don't change that dial.

And speaking of TV – have you considered supporting this site with a single issue or subscription to the Video Journal? If not, what are you waiting for?

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May 10, 2005

Epson will today be announcing its largest simultaneous release of next-generation printers and inks – ever. The Stylus Photo 2400, and the Stylus Pro 4800, 7800 and 9800 are on their way, along with a new generation of inks called UltraChromeK3.

Find out the inside scoop on this exciting new line of photographic printers, rather than simply a reprint of Epson's press release, in my exclusive K3 Preview Report.

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May 7, 2005

It's been online for a few days, but Adobe just announced the availability of Camera Raw 3.1, which adds support for several new cameras, including the Nikon D2X, Canon Digital Rebel XT/D350 and Olympus Evolt E-300. Note that Camera Raw 3.0 and higher is a much enhanced product, but that it's only available for the new Photoshop CS2 and Elements 3.0.

A new free DNG converter, Version 3.1, which includes support for the aforementioned cameras, is also available, and can generate .DNG files that versions 2.3 and 2.4 of Camera Raw in Photoshop CS and other raw processors that support the DNG format can process.

Update: The British newspaper The Guardian has just published in their online edition the third installment in Sabastiao Salgado's project Genesis, titled Among the Giants. Salgado is, in my opinion, the finest documentary photographer working in the world today. Genesis only cements that reputation. Highly recommended to anyone that loves great photography and who cares about the preservation of the natural world.

David Pogue at The New York Times has just written about the Nikon D2x white balance encryption imbroglio. You can read the whole article on the NYT web site if you're registered there, or a partial synopsis at Photoshopnews.com.

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May 5, 2005

What is a D50 print viewing station, and why might you need one? Find out in my review of the PDV-3D from GTI.

Did you know that the new Issue #12 of the Video Journal has the first of a two-part tutorial on digital Workflow? If you're the type of person that learns best by watching, rather than reading, you might find this worthwhile. You can watch a small Quicktime clip here or buy the current issue or a 4-issue subscription here.

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May 4, 2005

Due to cancellations there is now one spot available on each of two upcoming workshops; the Antarctic Expedition (Update: Sorry – Antarctica Sold Out) in early December of this year, and the Namibia Safari (Update: Sorry – Namibia Sold Out) in April of next year.

Usually these workshops sell out from my waitlist long before they are offered to the public. But by coincidence two health-related cancellations came in last week, and so I'm opening up these opportunities on a first-come, first-served basis. Both of these are expensive trips that will require a lot of your time, dedication, and passion to participate. But, if you do, these will likely be among the highlights of your life's photographic experience.

Sorry, but only one place is available on each of the trips. In both cases accommodations will be shared, as there are no single accommodations available. If you'd like to join either of these adventures, just drop me a line. I'll also be pleased to speak with you on the phone to answer any questions.

Update: Thom Hogan, possibly the most authoritative author on matters Nikon, has just published his review of that company's new flagship camera, the Nikon D2x. What does he think of it? "Nikon has arguably delivered the best camera ever made, but it has one flaw that I've been struggling to come to grips with and which keeps me from ran (sic) outright recommendation as I've done with previous cameras".

What is that possibly fatal flaw? Read his review, and find out.

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April 29, 2005

Photoshop CS2 is now shipping. It has quite a number of important upgrades for photographers, including a rewrite of Camera Raw, and its full integration with Bridge, the new Adobe stand-alone file browser.

I have been using CS2 for some months, as a beta tester, and one of the new features which really bowled me over is Merge to HDR. This allows for the automated merging of multiple exposures to achieve a final image that can span 8, 10, 12 or more stops. But, what makes it different than doing merging though the use of layers, masks and other traditional digital techniques, is that this is done with 32 bit floating point math, and a high degree of automation. Results can be far superior to what we've been able to achieve until now. My First Look at Merge to HDR is now online.

There are a couple of milestone's to be noted this weekend. Firstly, this is the sixth anniversary of The Luminous Landscape web site. How time flies when you're having fun. Secondly, this past week we received our 10,000th subscription / order for The Video Journal, which is now entering its fourth year of publication. Thanks to all for your involvement and support.

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On May 25, 26 together with Jon Pannozzo, the president of Colorbyte, I will be doing a two day seminar titled Print Without Limits. This will feature two repeating 2-hour presentations on Wednesday, as an introductory overview, and three repeating 2-hour session on Thursday, with a more detailed look at products and techniques. The Imageprint RIP will be featured, and colour managed workflow will be explored in some detail.

You can read more about this lecture series, being presented in Toronto by Vistek, on their web site. Co-sponsors are Colorbyte and Epson. Admission is $25 / seminar, and a Vistek credit will be given toward selected future product purchases.

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I am now offline until Tuesday, May 3, conducting a Master Class workshop in Algonquin Park. The Moose are calling.

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April 27, 2005

Today's new article is by contributor Doug Brown, and is titled Adventures with Panoramas. Doug is a professional photographer who publishes a web site called Torontowide.com. He documents the city's ongoing cultural events exclusively using stitched panoramic photo techniques. His fascinating article offers insights into how this specialized approach produces some remarkable images.

There are now only 6 days left to order your Video Journal single issue, or subscription, and save the shipping charges, which begin on May 3. (It was going to be May 1, but we'll be in Algonquin Park conducting a Bullwinkle workshop this weekend.)

If the RAW wars are getting you down, you might enjoy a chuckle by Discussion Forum member David Plummer.

Jeff Schewe over at PhotoshopNews.com has just published an article on the new Camera Raw 3 – part of Photoshop CS2, which has just started to ship. If you haven't received your Photoshop upgrade yet have a look at what you can expect from the new Camera Raw.

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April 24, 2005

Nikon has now responded to Thomas Knoll's published comments – that because that company encrypts the as shot White Balance data in the D2x's raw (NEF) files, Camera Raw will not be able to properly support that camera. I find Nikon's response to be disingenuous and inadequate. How I feel about this issue is best summarized by something that Jeff Schewe wrote yesterday on the PhotoshopNews discussion forum. It is quoted in full below.

While the battle for supremacy in digital cameras should be a well fought battle, the battle must end at the point that the raw file captured by the photographer is saved. The battle ground should include the sensor, the camera, the analog to digital convertor, even the on-board processor for writing the files to disk. But the moment the file is written, it should belong solely to the photographer with nothing in the file to force a photographer to process it a certain way or be required to use certain software to access the data. Nothing in the file should be in any way undocumented or in any way restrict the access to the image data by the author of the photograph.

The battleground for innovation and competition in digital photography must end at the point a file is written. To do anything to the file that in any way restricts, hampers, or impairs unfettered access to the digital photographic image is unjustifiable and should be deemed a hostile act against the photographer’s interest and the best interest of the photography industry.

Long term preservation and conservation of digital photography must be the most crucial and respected principle. Proprietary and undocumented raw file formats puts digital photography and photographers at unacceptable risks and impose restrictions that far outweigh any commercial or proprietary interests of the camera companies. If the camera companies wish to compete, let them do so on a battleground that does not put the very industry in which they participate at risk or inhibit the freedom of the photographers that are their customers. To do so will subject them to the wrath and scorn of the industry. This applies equally to every camera company. In this issue, there are no bystanders.

The raw file must belong solely to the photographer with no lien or encumbrance attached in any manner, what so ever. – Jeff Schewe

A new web site called OpenRAW devoted to open documentation for digital raw files has been created. It is worth your attention and support.

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A reminder to Video Journal subscribers – if your subscription auto-renews, then you will not be charged shipping and handling, which begins on May 1st. If your subscription lapses, and you then renew via our online store, postage and handling charges will be charged. In other words, keep your subscription current and save money.

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April 23, 2005

This has been a busy week.

Nikon introduced a revised D70, the D70s, as well as the anticipated low-cost 6MP D50. (Links are to complete information at dpreview.com).

Canon has released an update to the firmware for the 20D that provides support for the wireless transmitter WFT-E1, which I'll be reviewing here next month. This firmware update can be downloaded from Canon's web site.


Jon Cone

I spent most of the week attending a course on Fine Art Printing Workflow given by Jon Cone, under the auspices of The Canadian Photographic Centre. Whereas Jon's highly-regarded course is usually only given at his Vermont studio, the CPC has been running them in Toronto once or twice a year for those that can't make it to the green mountain state. Highly recommended, wherever you take it!

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Issue #12 of The Video Journal started to ship today. It will take several days to complete shipments to subscribers as well as single issue purchasers, but you can expect the DVDs to start arriving in mailboxes around the world by the end of next week.

Quicktime Video Clips from the new issue are now online. Please note that there are only eight more days to order your single issue, or subscription, or subscription renewal, and save the shipping charges, which begin on May 1.

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In the weeks and months ahead I'll be writing a new series of articles on the topics of colour management, profiling, inkjet printing, soft proofing and the like. Part of learning from these, and relating what you learn to your own work, will be having access to certain test charts. I have published today a brief article on how to generate your own Colour Test Charts.

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PhotoshopNews has republished an article that I wrote last fall on the subject of Adobe DNG.

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April 19, 2005

Kyocera officially announced last week that it was getting out of the Contax camera business – film, digital, lenses – the whole shebang. This followed a couple of months of rumours, retractions, misstatements and false information. In other words, a text-book business-school example of how to screw-up corporate public relations. Even Kyocera's business partners were blind-sided by the company's mishandling of its plans, and public disclosure of same.

But, what's done is done. The real question now, especially for those (like me) that own a Contax 645 camera systems is – what does the future hold?

In my new essay, titled CONTAX 645 – R.I.P. or Resurrection? I look at this venerable brand's possible future.

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Please note that as announced last Friday, Issue #12 of the Video Journal is now at the duplicator, and set to ship very soon; arriving in most subscriber's mailboxes before the end of the month.

We also have a special promotion on for the next 11 days which will provide free shipping on any single issue, multiple issues or subscriptions placed before May 1.

You can read about Issue #12's content details here.

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This site is now almost 6 years old, and in anticipation of our birthday in a few weeks I am posting the very first Home Page photograph to appear. It was the signature image of this site for a couple of years, and one that still says to me – The Luminous Landscape.

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Nikon seems to have decided that it rather than its customers own control of their raw files. Nikon has done this by encrypting the white balance data in the metafile's of the new D2x and D2Hs cameras.This effectively prevents third party developers, such as Adobe, from legally (if not practically) processing their raw files appropriately. (Gee Ma – guess we'll have to buy Nikon's Raw Capture, won't we?) You can read more about this bone-headed customer-unfriendly decision on the PhotoshopNEWs.com web site.

Add to this Nikon's idiotic implication that photographer's don't really need Photoshop, because Capture 4.2 does so much, so well – well, I'm almost at a lack for words; and that's saying something. Good cameras and lenses, dumb company!

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April 15, 2005

There's good news today.

Issue #12 of The Video Journal is now at the duplicator. It should ship to current subscribers, and be in your mailboxes, before the end of the month. This is our biggest issue yet, with over 3 hours of content, (our way of making up for the delay in publication of this issue). It's almost two issues in one.

You can read about #12's content details here.

Since its inception several years ago the Video Journal has never had a price increase, and shipping to anywhere in the world has always been free. But, rising costs, and the significant drop in the value of the U.S. dollar against other currencies means that something has to give, and that something is free mailing.

Beginning on May 1, 2005, we will start to charge all new subscriptions and single order purchases a nominal shipping charge. But, if you place your order or subscription before May 1st, you can avoid this charge. Simply place your order for any Video Journal product NOW, before May 1st, and you will save the new shipping and handling charges.

We will have QuickTime video clips from the new issue online within a few days.

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April 14, 2005

As promised a few days ago, our second camera review of the week is a Second Opinion, Field Test, and Survey Results of the Olympus E-1, by Sean Reid and Bruce Snell. Though it’s been available for about two years, and some feel that the E-1 is long overdue for a competitive update, many pros and amateurs have embraced the E-1 and it has a loyal following.

Scott Bourne has recently published his 88 Secrets to Photoshop for Photographers. It is available from Scott’s online store, and will be found at all Barnes and Noble book stores in the U.S. this summer. I should mention that I have a bias toward this book, as I wrote the Foreword to it for Scott.

Pixmantec has announced that they have just released Version 1.1.2 of RawShooter essentials 2005. It is now available for download now their web site. This version primarily concentrates on providing support for the recently released Nikon D2x. Now, if only they would release a Mac version!

If you're a rangefinder camera fan you might be interested in a contest that RANGEFINDERFORUM.COM is sponsoring. Just write a comprehensive article on rangefinder cameras vs. SLRs for their site and you could win a Bessa R3A rangefinder camera along with a Voigtlander 40mm f/1.4 lens.

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April 12, 2005

I was asked by Phase One to write an article about raw image processing and their Capture One software. That article is now online at the Phase One web site, and may prove to be of interest to anyone unsure about the advantages of working with raw files. It also provides an overview of some of the strengths, and weaknesses, of Capture One.

Every summer Summers-Knoll School and Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor Michigan present a conference on Photoshop. This year’s is titled Photoshop Soup2Nuts, and takes place on the weekend of June 24-25. The conference features: Thomas Knoll, Scott Kelby, Maggie Taylor, Jerry Uelsmann, Bruce Fraser, Dan Burkholder, Michael Grecco, Richard Newman, Julia Gordon, Jeff Schewe, and Marie Whisenant. If you can make it, this will be a must-attend event.

UPDATE:

Official Contax Announcement

This document was translated from the Japanese press release.)

April 12, 2005

Kyocera Corporation (President: Yasuo Nishiguchi, hereafter called "Kyocera") has decided to terminate CONTAX-branded camera business.

Although Carl Zeiss and Kyocera have entered into a long term co-operation regarding the development, production and sale of CONTAX-branded cameras, Kyocera has decided to terminate such business due to difficulties in catching up with the recent rapid market changes.

Consequently, Kyocera will terminate the shipment of CONTAX-branded cameras, and the exclusive lenses and accessories in September, 2005, except for the CONTAX 645 camera system, the shipment of which to some markets will come to an end in December, 2005
.
Kyocera will continue to provide after-sales services to its customers for their CONTAX-branded cameras, and the exclusive lenses and accessories over the maximum period of ten years within the specified time of each model.

R.I.P.

But – is this the end of the Contax story? Maybe not! I'll have some thoughts on all of this in print within a few days.

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April 11, 2005

I've now returned from a week-long vacation in San Francisco and Big Sur. In addition to some R&R I met with several of my friends and colleagues in the photographic world, and got to visit a few photography galleries. I even did a bit of shooting along the coast. Call it a busman's holiday.

This week will see a couple of camera reviews here, but not of the latest models. Rather, one model that has been around for a couple of years, and another that has been on the scene for about a half year, but which has already been reviewed here by a guest reviewer.

I'm referring to the Epson R-D1. My mini-review, or Another Opinion, as I call it, is now online. Later in the week a Second Opinion on the Olympus E-1, written by Sean Reid, will also be published here.

And for those interested in the current battle of the giants – that between the reigning king of the DSLR hill, the Canon 1Ds Mark II, and its newest serious contender, the Nikon D2X, Lloyd Chambers has just published an 85MB review of the two cameras, based on ownership of both. In the end he chose to keep one over the other, and he provides his reasons why in considerable detail. This review is available for download from Lloyd's site at a cost of US $34.

Update: Please note that Lloyd and his review are unrelated to this web site. It is being mentioned here as a matter of interest only.

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April 4, 2005

I remain on vacation this week, and mostly off-line, but I wanted to mention today that Adobe has now announced Photoshop CS2.

Though not available until late May, (an upgrade will cost $149), CS2 will be worth the wait because of the number of remarkable new features which it offers.

I've been working with the beta of CS2, Bridge, and the new version of Camera Raw for some time, and in the weeks ahead will offer my observations on how these will be of benefit to photographers, and which enhancements will likely be of the greatest interest.

If you're a Photoshop junkie, a great place to get up to speed on the latest news, stories and insights into CS2 is the new blog site PhotoshopNews.com.

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Please remember that this site has no advertisers or commercial sponsorship. Its more than 2,000 pages of exclusive content is free. Its existence relies solely on your support through purchases of single issues as well as subscriptions to The Video Journal – the world's only DVD video series for those passionate about photography.

Issue #12 is just being completed and will ship to subscribers this month. Previous issues are still currently available.

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April 2, 2005

Mike Johnston's column for April is now online. In it Mike celebrates The Sunday Morning Photographer's third anniversary, and looks at the subject of B&W image preparation and printing.

The good guys from PixelGenius have just launched a new web site called PhotoshopNews.com – a blog site dedicated to all things Photoshop. You may find the site to be of particular interest at the beginning of this coming week. :-)

The Home Page photograph has been changed. This photograph was taken on the Bay of Bengal in January, and is one of nearly 90 that will be featured in a book of my Bangladesh photographs to be published this Fall. I'll have more information, including details on the production of the book and how to pre-order a copy, in the weeks ahead.

I am now off-line and on vacation until April 10th.

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March 30, 2005

My October 2005 workshop in China has sold out to people on the waitlist. It is being mentioned here and on the site's Workshop page for the record. There are other available workshops from my colleagues listed on that page, which I hope you will also find to be of interest.

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March 29, 2005

The continuing growth and dynamism of the digital camera market has lead to the recent introduction of a number of new raw file converters as well as supplemental image processing programs. The latest of these is DxO Optics Pro + DxO Raw Engine. My review is now online.

UPDATE:

Canon has just released an update to the firmware for the Canon 1Ds Mark II. This apparently fixes the problem of camera lock-ups and lost files experienced by many photographers when using certain types and brands of cards (especially 4 GB Microdrives). I experienced these myself on more than one occasion, and there has been extensive discussion of the problem on Rob Galbraith's forums.

Of course Canon stonewalled on the subject of the bug for several months, but as always produced a fix in due course. My three neglected 4 GB Microdrives can now go back into normal service.

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March 26, 2005

I've now returned from a shoot in the Florida Everglades. The main purpose of our trip was to interview Clyde Butcher, one of the most successful large format B&W landscape photographers working in America today. He currently has a major show at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Fl, together with a collection of work by Ansel Adams from the Eastman House Collection.


Ringling Museum Exhibit by Clyde Butcher

Our interview with Clyde, filmed in the swamps of Big Cypress National Preserve, as well as at his galleries and in his darkroom, will appear in Issue #13 of the Luminous Landscape Video Journal, scheduled for release in the second half of this year. (Issue #12 will ship next month).

A photograph of Clyde which I took of him shooting in the swamp with his 8X10" camera is now my Miscellaneous Moment for March, and a photograph which I took along the Myakka River near Venice, Fl, is my Featured Image for the month. This is also the site's new Home Page photograph.

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Have you been to an Ikea store lately? The old joke has it that Ikea is "Swedish for divorce". But, if you have a large printer like the Epson 4000 you might just want to drop in to your local Ikea store, or visit them online, because Andy Biggs has discovered there what may be The Ultimate Printer Stand.

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I would like to extend my best wishes to readers around the world on this Easter weekend. May the Easter Bunny bring you lots of chocolate eggs (I never really did get how rabbits layed eggs at this time of year), but more importantly – peace and good health.

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March 19, 2005

Contributor Pete Myers today provides a fascinating new essay titled Making Images – Not Taking Images. Pete provides us with a different, and fascinating perspective on how we work.

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I am now traveling on a five day shoot in the Everglades and the west coast of Florida. I'll be back on Thursday, March 24. Please hold your e-mails until then as I will be offline.

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The Home Page photograph has been updated with another from my January shoot in Bangladesh.

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Have you checked out The Video Journal yet? This is a quarterly DVD-based video magazine which we produce. It is exclusively about photography. It is also how this site is supported. We have no ads, no pop-ups, and no commercial relationships, but we do provide more than a thousand pages of content here about photography. Consider a subscription, or even just a single issue. Please consider supporting this site. Thanks.

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March 18, 2005

Bernard Languillier attended the Photo Imaging Expo show in Tokyo yesterday, and has filed a report in words and pictures.

And, as for the big news, that I mentioned briefly earlier today might be coming, well, let's just say that it was an April Fools joke done on me a couple of weeks early, which I fortunately was able to nip before it got out of hand. Never mind!

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As mention in yesterday's What's New (below), Epson has now released a firmware update (02.02) for the P2000 multimedia viewer. This device has become the hottest such device on the market during the past few months.

The firmware is currently only available on Epson's Japanese language site, but with the following links and instructions (followed carefully – please), the upgrade should not be a problem.

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Breeze Systems announced today the release of BreezeBrowser Pro V1.1, which adds raw support for the new Canon Rebel XT/350D, as well as several additional features.

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Canon has also announced that it will make available Digital Photo Professional 1.6.1 on March 25. This is a free functional update with some bug fixes. More details can be found on Rob Galbraith's site.

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March 17, 2005

A few weeks ago, due to either the incompetence or maliciousness of a Contax Europe employee, it was widely reported that Kyocera / Contax was getting out of the camera and lens business. This was only partially true.

While Kyocera has indeed decided to terminate its film and digital business under that name, Contax brand cameras and lenses are definitely not discontinued. A release on this was issued this week by ToCAD, the new American Contax distributor. The Contax 645 line (which is what most pros care about) is alive and well. And so that you know this time that its official, a PDF of an announcement to this effect for Contax dealers is available for download.

Update: Bibble Labs has just announced V4.2 of Bibble, their very well known and regarded raw file converter, available for Windows, Mac and Linux. The new version provides support for a number of new cameras, including...

Nikon 8800, 8700, 8400 and the new D2X
Canon S60, S70 G6, Pro1 and the new Digital Rebel XT 350D
Olympus 8080 and E300 Evolt
Pentax *IST DS
Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D

According to Bibble Labs they are the first third-party developer to fully "decode" Nikon's new encrypted raw files (about which I am far too polite to comment negatively).

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March 16, 2005

Canon has now started to ship the Rebel XT / 350D in most countries. I have been using one in the field and on a commercial shoot for the past week or so, and my hands-on field report is now online.

Update: It's been brought to my attention that there is an oversight in my 350XT field report. By pressing the JUMP button one can skip from one menu heading to another. Sorry that I missed that, and I regret any confusion caused. But, this does nothing to alleviate the dim menu item listings.

FLASH: 5pm EST (March 15) – Pentax has just announced an 18.6 Megapixel 645 format DSLR. Here is a quote from the press release...

GOLDEN, CO (March 15, 2005)…PENTAX Imaging Company has announced that PENTAX Corporation will unveil the first PENTAX 645 Digital medium-format camera at the Photo Imaging Expo (PIE) from March 17–20, 2005 in Tokyo. This latest PENTAX digital advancement will be showcased under glass at PIE 2005.
The PENTAX 645 Digital camera will offer professional quality digital image reproduction. The camera will also feature:

• A reliable PENTAX 645 AF mount
• Compatibility with existing smc PENTAX 645 interchangeable lenses
• A Kodak developed extra-large CCD image sensor with 18.6 total megapixels.*
*Design, specifications and product name are subject to change without notice. Official launch date and pricing to be announced.

This is obviously great news for owners of Pentax 645 gear. At least those who haven't already abandoned the brand in despair over not having a digital migration path. No price or availability yet, though "under glass" means that it's almost certainly going to still be many months until you can actually buy one.

Update: DPreview has just published its comprehensive review of the Fuji S3 Pro. Their impressions and relevant findings pretty much jibe with those discussed here in brief several months ago. Now the Fuji faithful have an excuse to vent their spleen on Phil Askey instead of me for a change.

Update: Epson has announced on its Japanese web site that the P-2000 storage / viewer that I reviewed, and praised highly here a few months ago, will receive a firmware update. Based on the crude Goggle machine translation, and other sources, it appears that there is now raw file support for the new Nikon D2x, Minolta D7, Olympus E1 and E-300, and Pentax *istD and Ds. The P2000 will also now display larger JPGs, including those from the Canon 1Ds MKII and Nikon D2x.

This new firmware will appear in new P2000 units eventually, but will also soon be available for download from Epson's web site for those with current units. Thanks Epson.

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March 14, 2005

A good host always allows his guest to have the last word, and so here is Mike's Johnston's response to my rebuttal, to his article, to...

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March 13, 2005

Mike Johnston has provided us with a bonus column this month, one with some predictions about the future of digital cameras. It's titled Rash Predictions.

I beg to differ with some of Mike's points, and so with Mike's permission my rebuttal is found in a counterpoint titled It's the DOF – Among Other Things.

Once you've read these two new essays, don't forget that this site exists only because of your single issue purchases and subscriptions to The Video Journal.

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I also want to draw your attention to two terrific workshops upcoming from my friend, and excellent photographic educator Craig Samuels. The first is a unique 9 day workshop on the Aran Islands in late May. The second is sensational 4 day workshop in Toronto in early April being sponsored by Craig and The Canadian Photographic Centre, given by Jon Cone. It is Colour and B&W (PiezographyBW) digital printing with Jon Cone of Cone Editions Press. This is the same famous workshop that Jon puts on at his own printing studio. If it wasn't for the fact that I'll be traveling in California that week I'd be taking it myself. Highly recommended!

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March 10, 2005

Fans of Alain Briot's unique ten-part series on Aesthetics and Photography will be pleased to learn that his ninth installment – How to Establish a Personal Photographic Style – is now online.

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My latest limited edition print portfolio, titled Bangladesh – First Impressions, is now available through the site's online store. This has been published to coincide with the gallery show of these images that is currently taking place at the Pikto Gallery in Toronto.

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The featured Home Page photograph has been updated.

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March 9, 2005

Adobe announced Tuesday that two more companies are to support the DNG raw format – Hasselblad / Imacon and Leica. They join Phase One (Capture One), DxO Labs, Extensis Portfolio and iView, and pixmantex RawShooter. Now if one or two Japanese camera companies would wake up and smell the coffee we'd really be making some progress.

You can read my review of the Adobe Digital Negative Converter here

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March 8, 2005

Leica aficionados will recognize the name Erwin Puts, one of if not the world's leading authorities on Leica lenses. He is the author of Leica Lens Compendium.

I mention this because Irwin has just published his review of Epson's unique R-D1 digital rangefinder camera. Given Leica's uncertain financial future, the R-D1 has captured the attention of many rangefinder enthusiasts, as it currently provides the only digital option for those with Leica M and screw-mount glass.

The Luminous Landscape was the first place on the web or in print to publish an Epson R-D1 review, and subsequent wide angle lens report, both by Sean Reid.

I'd also like to draw your attention to a superb new article on composition and the figure group written by Ben Lifson, to be found on the RAWWORKFLOW.COM web site.

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To subscribers wondering about the status of Issue #12 of The Video Journal , the update is that Chris is in the final stages of editing, and we hope to ship in the next 3-4 weeks. Our Bangladesh shoot and the Xmas holidays were some of the factors in the delay (this time). Such is the nature of small journal publishing.

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By popular request, there is now an online Index of all Video Journal Content to date, categorized by both topic and issue.

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March 6, 2005

As I reported last Friday, a number of knowledgeable sources have been telling me that while Kyocera will be discontinuing their 35mm film, and digital cameras, the Contax 645 line is not discontinued. This has now been confirmed by Denise Nelson of Kyocera Yashica (UK) Ltd., to Ian Andrews of ePHOTOzine – that the 645 range would continue in production for the foreseeable future. An official announcement will be released early next week.

It really is appalling though that someone at Kyocera in Europe were allowed to spread incomplete and premature information, that was then picked up by several web sites, and which caused such concern among customers and related companies for the past few days. Someone flunked Corporate Communications 101.

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Our resident curmudgeon in training, Mike Johnston, has provided us today with his column for March. In it he looks at how the viewfinders on DSLRs have become like looking at a postage stamp at the end of a tunnel.

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UPDATE: The Home Page photograph has been updated. The new one, titled Frames, was taken of people seen in the "windows" of a passenger ferry docked in Dhaka. This is not a composite, but is a straight photograph, one of about a dozen taken as the people in the foreground and the boat traffic in the background constantly changed over a ten minute period.

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March 4, 2005

Yesterday's news that Kyocera Corporation will cease production of Contax cameras, among their other brands, was a shock and disappointment to many. But, after talking with several knowledgeable sources, it appears to me that things are not that clear cut.

The story as reported yesterday on several European sites is not based on any official news release by Kyocera in Japan. In typical fashion, and regrettably for both them and their customers, Kyocera is not responding to these rumours in a proactive and timely manner. So, until they do, those who care about the Contax brand, from both a personal / professional as well as historical perspective should keep cool and wait to see how things unfold. The story isn't over yet!

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Several readers have written regarding my ReadyNAS 600 review update with descriptions of how to solve the dynamic DNS problem. The article has now been updated with this information.

Also, I discovered that my timing tests conducted last week had an error. This is caused by the fact that my Mac's WifI was turned on at the same time that I was connected by wired Ethernet. It seems that if both are connected simualtaniously (at least on a Mac) the system defaults to WiFi. I have some updated comments on this now online.

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Fed up with DSLR viewfinders that are like "looking at a postage stamp at the end of a tunnel"? On Sunday our resident curmudgeon Mike Johnston will have his say on this and other pressing topics in his new column for March. Next week will also see the eagerly awaited ninth instatement if Alain Briot's ongoing series on The Esthetics of Photography.

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Pikto Gallery. March 3, 2005

Last night saw the opening of my and Pierre Claquin's Bangladesh exhibition at the Pikto Gallery in Toronto. About 200 people attended. It was great to meet with a number of old friends, as well as new ones, and I want to thank everyone who came. The show is open 7 days a week until March 24th.

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March 3, 2005

UPDATE – 2:30pm EST

It is being reported on DPReview today that Kyocera Corporation is to cease production of all film and digital cameras, including models with the Yashica, Kyocera and Contax brand names.

If this report is accurate, this is most distressing for those with Contax 35mm and 645 camera systems, among them me.

I have no additional information on this at the moment, but when I do I will share it with you here. In the meantime my suggestion to anyone with investments in Contax bodies and glass is to look at what lenses and accessories (or extra bodies) that you might want or need, because unless some other company buys them out, or this story turns out to not be correct, these items will cease to be available new in fairly short order.

As for me, I have two Contax 645 bodies, 5 lenses, and a Phase One P25 back designed for Contax, and so I am likely to remain quite happy using this excellent gear for years to come.

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In my review last week of the ReadyNAS 600, a network accessible 1Terabyte RAID 5 drive, I mentioned that one of its strengths was the ability for one to be able to access the drive over the Internet, even without the drive being attached to a computer. I have now updated that review with a detailed look at how this is accomplished.

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February 28, 2005

A reminder to anyone living in or near Toronto, that my Bangladesh exhibition at the Pikto gallery opens this Thursday evening. The opening reception is from 6 – 9 pm, and the public is cordially invited. The show runs through March 24, and the gallery is open 7 days a week.

Several more photographs from the show are now online in a small photo essay titled Bangladesh – The Women.

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February 25, 2005 (Updated)

I rarely review computer equipment on this site. It's a rapidly moving target, and there are a great many places online and in print that stay on top of the latest computers and associated gizmos. But, I've been using the ReadyNAS 600 for a while, and I want other photographers to know about it.

This is a RAID 5, one Terabyte network drive designed for home and small office use. I believe that it will be found to be a very worthwhile addition for many professional and fine art photographers who need to have both redundant data protection combined with network and remote file accessibility.

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Mamiya was a no-show at PMA, and I wondered out-loud on my recent show report at the status of the eagerly awaited ZD camera and back, because of their absence, combined with rumours of delays in product introduction.

It seems like Mamiya was listening, because they have just issued a press release, as reported on Thursday by PhotographyBLOG.

The bottom line? Yes, there is a delay. "The Mamiya ZD back is in final development and is also due for launch during summer 05", but the good news is that it looks like the price of US $10,000 is one that is going to hold.

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Hitachi announced the availability on Thursday of a 6GB Microdrive for $299 list. Now if Canon would just solve the FAT 32 problem with the 1Ds MKII, (it's been weeks!), maybe photographers would feel comfortable buying them.

BTW – that's just $50 a Gig for something that fits in the palm of one's closed hand. It wasn't that many years ago that one Gigabyte drives cost $50,000 and were the size of refrigerators. (Of course for desktop use we are now paying as low as $1 per Gigabyte).

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A review of the Nikon D2X, which officially become available today, written by Bjørn Rørslett , is now online. It also provides a comparison of the new Nikon with the Canon 1Ds MKII.

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UPDATE

I have been following the ongoing debate about the existence, or lack therefore, of high ISO noise and restricted dynamic range on the new Nikon D2x. My tests showed this to be the case, but because of flawed methodology and some outright mistakes, I withdrew it. But I didn't withdraw my finding, and it seems that these are now being seen by others as well. I have some further thoughts on this.

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February 23, 2005

I have removed the article on high ISO Nikon D2X noise, which appeared on this site briefly Tuesday evening.

My review showed a comparison of high ISO noise performance done between a Nikon D2x and a Canon 20D, shot at the PMA show. The Nikon appeared to perform quite poorly in this area, though, as I wrote in my show report, I was very impressed with the camera's low ISO performance.

While I believe that the results presented in my test were by and large accurate, enough errors in my methodology were pointed out to me that I've decided to withdraw the piece until a more rigorous and comprehensive test can be undertaken.

I regret any inconvenience that this premature publication may have caused.

Updated – with an explanation of how I screwed up.

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February 22, 2005

More brief observations from the ongoing PMA show in Orlando, Florida.

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February 21, 2005

Sunday was the opening day of the PMA show, and a brief report on what caught my eye there is now online.

More tomorrow.

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February 19, 2005

The PMA show begins tomorrow (Sunday) in Orlando, Florida. It is the major spring photo industry trade show in the US each year.

I'm now on my way to the show, which I'll attend on Sunday and Monday, and then will be spending the balance of the week on the beach in southern Florida, on vacation. (No – not with Mickey).

Assuming that there's anything worth reporting on, I'll do so here over the next few days. If pre-show e-mailed press releases are any indication, there will likely be 624 new digicams and 219 new image indexing programs, which, you'll be pleased to hear, I will not be reporting on here.

If you're going to be at the show, and you see me, please say "Hi".

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February 18, 2005

Two of the world's most advanced image sensor chip designers and manufactures are located with a day's drive of Toronto, where I live. Late last year I visited with Dalsa, in Waterloo, Ontario. Dalsa makes the sensor chips used in a number of medium format digital backs, including those from Leaf, Jenoptik and the upcoming Mamiya ZD camera and backs.

In late January I had the opportunity to visit with Eastman Kodak's Image Sensor Solutions (ISS) division in Rochester, New York. These folks design and manufacture the sensors used in medium format backs from Phase One, Imacon and Sinar. The also make the chips used in Olympus DSLRs, and numerous digicams, including Kodak's own popular lineup.

A write-up on my visit with Kodak ISS is now online.

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February 17, 2005


Links to Canon Japan's Web Site's Announcement

Canon has today announced the Digital Rebel XT (US and Canada), AKA EOS 350D in Europe and rest -of-world, (outside Japan), where it's known as the Kiss. Got that?

Silly naming conventions aside, this looks to be a very attractive new offering, aimed at the low end of the DSLR market, but with a great many high-end capabilities.

The points of comparison are with the previous Rebel and the 20D. The new camera is in an ever smaller new body than last year's Rebel. It has a new even-lower noise second generation 8 Megapixel CMOS chip, and is capable of 3 frames per second. It can shoot simultaneous Raw and JPG formats, and contains the high speed DIGIC II image processing chip found in all of Canon's higher end cameras. The list price will be under $899 in the US (body only). It will also be available in "kit" form with the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 II lens for $999, and will be available in both chrome and black finish.

Among other notable features are near instantaneous start-up time, a 14 frame burst buffer, E-TTL II flash mode, and USB 2.0 for file transfers. Pictbridge for direct transfers to a printer without a computer is also included. You can read all the gory details in Phil Askey's summation on DPReview. The only thing Phil didn't mention is the small kitchen sink that is included in the box with every Rebel. Please note that the only reason that it's included is to make other manufacturers afraid. Very afraid.

On a more serious note – as you can see from the above PR photograph, the top panel LCD, like that of the original Rebel, but unlike the 20D and 1 Series cameras, is on the rear, just above the colour screen. Based on first impressions this may be an operating issue for some, but at least it's there, unlike some manufacturers who have removed it, but put its information on the colour LCD instead, which is a real design no-no in my book.

Overall my initial impression of the Rebel XT is quite favourable. I'll be reporting on a field test and more complete impressions as soon as Canon has review samples available for testing.

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February 16, 2005

Sometimes there is a moment which defines the transition from one paradigm to another. The digital Rubicon was crossed this month (Feb, 2005) when in Popular Photography magazine’s review of the new Nikon F6 film camera, they wrote in their negative concerns sidebar (sorry for the unintentional pun), “Recording medium requires chemical processing before it can be read”.

I can’t say if there was any touch of irony in this comment, but regardless, it struck me as a defining moment in our decade-long transition to digital.

Canon Canada is now featuring several of my photographs on their web site. These cycle on a random basis on their home page, so you'll have to refresh that page a few times to see them all.

Update:

Nikon today announced the D2Hs, a feature update to the D2H. You can read more about it in a preview report on DPReview. Based on initial comments by some of the Nikon faithful on DPReview's Nikon discuss forum, the camera is being greeted with some considerable dismay – still just 4MP while some $1,500 more than its predecessor. There is a similar discussion going on on Galbraith's Nikon forum.

Not to enter the debate, but I have to say that it would appear to appeal to only a limited market segment, and its controversial introduction will likely detract from the start of availability before the end of this month of Nikon's D2X, which, though still not full-frame, at 12MP promises to be more along the upgrade path that many Nikon owners have been patiently waiting for.

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February 14, 2005

There is an announcement today on Canon's Japanese web site of the Canon EOS 20Da. This appears to be a variant of the current model, but designed specifically for amateur astrophotography.

What can be gleaned from a rough English translation is that the camera has its infrared blocking filter (which all cameras have) removed, to increase light sensitivity at that end of the spectrum. It also has the ability to allow "live" focusing on the camera's rear LCD, much like with a digicam. Canon also appears to have provided a next generation on-chip noise reduction capability for high ISO use.

Before you get too excited, note that for the moment at least, this is a Japan-only model with no price or availability yet announced. Photographers who enjoy terrestrial infrared photography, and who have been having their Canon D60's modified to have the IR filter removed, will rejoice though.

If the Canon 20Da doesn't come to North America or Europe I imagine that some of the major Japanese retail stores will be doing a land-office business in exports though.

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By the way, the PMA (Photo Marketing Association) trade show opens in less than a week in Orlando, Florida. That means that its new product time again. You can expect a flurry of product announcements in the days ahead.

I'll be going to the show next weekend, and reporting here on what I find to be of interest, so stay tuned.

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My article last week titled Three Must-Have Photoshop Plug-ins, covered noise reduction, B&W conversion, and sharpening. As I expected many people have written wondering what I think of the other contenders in each category. All I can reply is that I obviously think that the ones that I use myself are preferable to the others. Otherwise, I'd use them instead.

In any event, one of the categories was noise reduction, and for those that want to know how the other 22 contenders stack up I can recommend Michael Almond's recently updated Noise Reduction Tool Comparison. And yes, Michael also finds that Noise Ninja is the pick of the bunch, though Neat Image is a very close second.

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February 13, 2005

For three weeks next month, from March 3rd till 24th, the Pikto Gallery in Toronto will be holding an exhibition of photographs from Bangladesh by Michael Reichmann and Pierre Claquin. A description of the show is now online.

There will be an opening reception, generously sponsored by Canon, on the evening of March 3rd. If you live in or near Toronto, and can make either the opening reception or the show, I'll look forward to seeing you there.

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Readers may be familiar with Vincent Oliver, the publisher of the well-regarded photography web site photo-i. Vincent is the author of a newly published book from AVA Publishing titled An Advanced Guide to Digital Photography. I am mentioning it here, not only because it is a very good new resource for beginner and intermediate digital photographers, but also because it features a section on my own work, along with that of other leading photographers from various fields.

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February 11, 2005

Update #1 – 9am EDT

Though it isn't yet on Epson's web site as of 9am EST today, Epson North America will announce later today the Stylus Photo R1800. This is a wide carriage version of the R800, an 8 ink printer which offers enhanced prints on glossy and semi-gloss paper. It isn't clear if the R1800 will replace the Photo 2200 or exist alongside it, though my guess is that the 2200 will fade away once inventories are depleted.

The R1800 features 1440X5760 resolution, 1.5 picoliter droplet size, and paper handling up to 13" X 19".

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Update #2 – 3pm EDT

Phase One has announced the immediate availability of V 3.10 firmware for the company's P20 and P25 digital backs. Among the enhancements are the ability to set in-camera three separate custom white balance points, a new button lock feature which prevents accidental actuation of back functions, improved EXIF information, and completed tethered operation capability for all camera models supported. There are reportedly also enhancements to the back's overall stability.

I have installed the firmware without problem on my P25, and found it to work as advertised. Worthwhile enhancements.

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Today's New Content

"What tools do you use for sharpening, noise reduction and B&W conversion?" These are the questions that I'm asked more than any others.

The selection has changed over the years as better products come to market. Currently there are three Photoshop plug-ins that are my favourites, and which I use for these tasks on a daily basis. Two of them have just had new versions released this week. These are covered in my new essay titled Three Must-Have Photoshop Plug-ins.

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And, a reminder, as I do from time to time. This site is non-commercial. No ads, no annoying pop-ups, and no commercial relationships. But that doesn't mean that we're freed from the realities of needing to pay for the server, huge bandwidth, and other costs of operating such a large photographic education project.

They way we finance this site and continue to bring you a dozen or more new product reviews, tutorials, and essays each month is through subscriptions to our unique quarterly DVD video magazine about photography, the Luminous Landscape Video Journal. Why not take a moment and find out what it's about?

Thanks for your support.

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On Thursday, Feb 10 DxO Labs announced DxO Optics Pro 2.2. This appears to be the version that will finally put the product on the map, as it features output to Adobe's DNG raw format; the first product from a company other than Adobe to do so.

I expect to have a hands-on review of Version 2.2 available here in the near future.

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February 9, 2005

Long-time readers will know that I am a strong proponent of shooting raw files, and have written and lectured extensively on the subject. Today we have a new article on the subject, by Michael Tapes. Michael was an early supporter of using raw files, and was co-author several years ago of one of the first third-party raw conversion programs. His essay is titled The Raw Truth.

Michael will share some additional thoughts on this topic here in the months ahead.

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February 6, 2005

If your day today isn't dominated by the Superbowl, (and believe it or not, there are a handful of people around the world for whom this is true), you have the pleasure of reading Mike Johnston's new column for February, entitled The Filter Flare Factor. I'm 100% in agreement with Mike on this issue.

Many readers have been asking when more Bangladesh photographs will be appeared on the site. I have two more articles to come, and also will soon be announcing my March gallery exhibit in Toronto, and the publication of a moderately priced limited-edition portfolio, which will coincide with the show. Details next week.

And, for a change of pace, the new featured Home Page photograph is one taken last week at the Dofasco Steel Mill in Hamilton, Ontario.

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February 4, 2005

When my Fuji S3 Pro mini-review first appeared a couple of months ago I was taken to task by some Fujisa (Fuji camera afficionados) complaining about my dynamic range testing methodology.

This week Thom Hogan, the undisputed authority on Nikon and Nikon-mount cameras, has published his Fuji S3-Pro review. It is much more rigorous and comprehensive than my mini-review was. But in the end, it seems to me that we came to much the same conclusions. The S3 Pro produces a modest increase in dynamic range (though you have to work for it). We also agree on the slowness of the camera, and on that fact that the resolution is very high. We disagree on the colour accuracy (I rated it much higher than Thom did), but then this could simply be a sample variation. We both agree that the camera is seriously overpriced in today's market.

If you're interested in the Fuji S3 Pro, either as a potential purchaser, or simply to know what's going on in the current world of DSLRs, you can't do better than Thom's S3 Pro review.

Both my Featured Image and Miscellaneous Moment entries for January are now online.

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February 3, 2005

This is an announcement of the availability of my next workshop – An Algonquin Park Moose Expedition and Master Class Workshop, April 29 – May 2, 2005. This long-weekend workshop is designed for the experienced photographer who wants to spend an intensive weekend working on his or her shooting skills, as well as obtaining feedback on previous work from a group of ones peers. Of course if you're fascinated at the prospect of photographing moose close-up in one of the finest locations for this in North America, this also could be the workshop for you. Sorry – Sold Out.

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February 2, 2005

We all bring a bit of ourselves to every photograph that we view. Sometimes these preconceptions can be quite misleading, especially when the photograph we are viewing has few clues as to its true nature.

In Never Presume I offer up just one example from my recent shoot in Bangladesh that has fooled more than one person as to its real situation.

The new Home Page photograph is also from that shoot.

UPDATE

Adobe has just publicly released the Camera Raw 2.4 plug-in for Photoshop. Among the new cameras supported are the Canon 20D, 1Ds Mark II, and Konica Minolta diMage 7D.

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January 29, 2005

For many photographers the best way to hone their skills, not to mention rekindle their enthusiasm, is to take a photographic workshop. Though I have none scheduled or available myself for the coming year (as of now), I do work closely with a handful of exceptional photographic instructors, and promote their workshops on these pages. These people are all colleagues with whom I have worked in the past, and whom I can vouch for as talented and conscientious instructors. Check out what's available.

Update:

In my article published yesterday, Bangladesh: What Worked – What Didn't, I wrote at length about a problem that three members of our workshop experienced with the Canon 1Ds MKII and Hitachi 4GB Microdrives. It now appears that the problem isn't with Hitachi 4GB Microdrives, but possibly with any and all 4GB cards and this camera. It may even be a problem with any cards over 2GB. There is a long thread on this on the Galbraith Forums, and it seems that people from all over the world are now experiencing this problem with the 1Ds MK II, and some as well with the 1D Mk II.

Canon has been advised of the problem. It's now a matter of waiting until they do something about it. In my experience, Canon won't say a thing until it's fixed, and a firmware update is available. Till then, I would avoid the use of any 4GB cards with these cameras.

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January 28, 2005

At the end of December, just before leaving for my trip to Bangladesh, I wrote a piece titled Bangladesh – What's in the Bag and Why. Since my return a number of readers have asked how it all worked out – what worked, and what didn't. So, today I have published a new article titled, naturally enough, Bangladesh: What Worked – What Didn't. It also contains a number of new photographs from that shoot.

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January 27, 2005

Time for a guilt trip.

Are you a regular visitor to this site? Do you enjoy the two or three new articles that appear each week? If so then you're also aware that this site is non-commercial. No ads, no pop-ups, no sponsors and no corporate relationships or hidden agendas. The only thing we promote here are our own products and services; workshops, print portfolios, and of course, The Video Journal.

It's the Video Journal that I want to draw your attention to today. If you are a regular reader, value this site, and want to see it thrive and continue, then your subscription or single issue purchase is what's needed. This is what pays the bills.

Join the thousands of people in more than 50 countries that have discovered the world's only quarterly DVD video magazine for passionate photographers; The Luminous Landscape Video Journal.

Thanks.

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January 25, 2005

Photographers, especially those shooting digital, face a serious challenge when confronted with the thousands of files that can accumulate from a major shoot or long-term project. That challenge is, how to catalogue ones work so that either specific files, or files on a certain type of subject can be quickly and efficiently found.

Australian fine-art landscape photographer, and frequent contributor to this site, Nick Rains, today gives us a review of Imatch, an inexpensive but highly competent Windows-only program for automating this task.

There has been a lot of interest in the HP Designjet 30 and 130 printers. But, very few reviews have appeared thus far, either on the Net or in print. Surprising, given the level of interest. My guess is that HP's printer group simply doesn't know how to play the game yet when it comes to working with the right people to get reviews generated. In any event, Uwe Steinmueller at Digital Outback Photo now has a mini-review of the Designjet 30/130 on his site. Scott Bourne also has a favourable review of the HP 130 on his site.

Their conclusions seem to partially jibe with those that I made when I saw the HP 130 at a dealer some months ago, and also at another photographer's studio more recently. Poor user manual, ink cartridges on the small side, less robust construction than an Epson 4000 (its primary competitor), but on the plus side, a much lower price. Image quality is very good, and print longevity using its dye-based inks doesn't seem to be an issue, at least on glossy papers. It's real advantage is that it produces better prints on glossy paper than do Epson's Ultrachrome ink printers (less bronzing). But since most fine-art photographers whom I know prefer to use matte papers, this may not be an advantage with broad appeal – though certainly for some commercial applications it will be. Also, it appears that these printers can successfully use fewer third-party art papers than the Epson Ultrachrome ink printers can because availability of profiles is an issue. This means that custom profiles, either from third parties or ones own, may be required. Check out Uwe's and Scott's reviews and see what you think.

To answer the obvious next question, no, I have no immediate plans to test the 130 myself.

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January 22, 2005

Of all the things we saw and photographed in Bangladesh, the children where what left the most lasting impression on me, and which attracted my camera the most often on our journey. A small portfolio, excerpted from an upcoming exhibition, is now on-line.

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January 20, 2005

One of the world's most fascinating and yet forbidden photographic locations are the ship-breaking yards at Chittagong. Only a handful of photographers have ever been there, yet its haunting potential demanded that it be included on my recent photographic expedition to Bangladesh. Find out how we almost didn't make it, and why it is such a controversial and difficult to access location.

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January 18, 2005

Because I was away at the beginning of the month, Mike Johnston's column, the Sunday Morning Photographer, didn't appear as usual. It's now online, and is titled The K-1000 of Digital SLRs.

If you live in the Toronto area, and missed my sold-out seminar last November on Raw Workflow, it is being offered again by The Canadian Photographic Centre on Feb 7, 2005. There are just a few places left.

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January 16, 2005

I have just returned from Bangladesh. We arrived home at 4am this morning – thirty six hours of travel and 11 hours of jet-lag differential later. Do you know what burnt toast feels like? I do, now.

But, the trip went extremely well, and the photography was fantastic. I will have a range of articles and photographs about it appearing here beginning later this week, and a gallery exhibition will be coming up in March, along with a limited-edition collector's portfolio. I'll tell you more about this all soon.

In the meantime, the first image to appear from the trip now graces the site's home page.

Now, back to sleep.

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What's New listing for prior years are also available...

2004 Sept - Dec
2004 Jan - Sept
2003

2002
2001
2000
1999


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